African Author Empi Baryeh: A Case of Persistence

African Author Empi Baryeh: A Case of Persistence

West African Author Empi Baryeh has been putting word-to-paper and work-to-dream for two decades off and on. That’s a long time. A few setbacks early in her career weren’t enough to stop this now award-winning writer from selling and publishing her novel in 2011. Since then, she has published three stories of love and romance centered in the beautiful continent of Africa. Join Diverse Romance and Empi today as we learn more about her story.

Tell us about your journey to become a published author.

My first publication was a short story in a national weekend paper in my country. That was way back in 1997! I got paid, too. Unfortunately, after a second short story in the same paper, my writing took a back seat to education. Fast-forward to 2011, when I finally had a completed manuscript for a full-length novel. I heard Savvy Authors was holding an editor pitch contest, so I pitched CHANCING FAITH to the editor of Black Opal Books. This was my first sale! It was followed by the acceptance from Evernight Publishing for MOST ELIGIBLE BACHELOR, which ended up becoming my debut novel.

Tell us about your latest romance release.

FOREST GIRL is a story of love in an arranged marriage set in 1990s Ghana, West Africa. Here’s the blurb:

Esi Afriyie has been in love with Michael Yaw Badu since childhood. When he receives a scholarship to study in America, all hope seems lost … until he returns to Ghana ten years later. An arranged marriage contracted by their families makes her dreams come true, but does the reality of being Mrs. Michael Badu live up to the fantasy?

Michael may have married Esi, but he is in love with someone else—Forest Girl, a mystery woman he encountered just once in the forest. His heart belongs to her, and he doesn’t need his beautiful wife awakening his carnal desires. He is even willing to sacrifice his marriage for another encounter with Forest Girl.

Reality is not what either Esi or Michael imagined. Esi is disillusioned; Michael feels trapped. Will Michael give in and allow his heart to discover a love that was always meant to be, before it’s too late?

Give five words that best describe this book. What message do you hope readers get?

Heartwarming, Passionate, Emotional, African, multicultural.

Message for readers: Love and marriage aren’t clean-cut or black and white. Love doesn’t exist in perfection – even when two people are meant to be together.

Give us one or two of your favorite lines from your current book.

The temptation to take him at his word overwhelmed her, but she’d learnt how quickly bliss could turn to pain, and even though his actions matched his words right now, they could change tomorrow. So, she’d take this moment and hide it in her heart.

For a second, he considered lying, knowing the immediate consequences were going to be better than the truth. But if he wanted to earn her trust, he had to be honest.

Tell us about your writing space and your daily routine.

Anywhere I can perch with my laptop is my writing space. I tend to be a night owl, so I do more writing at night just before heading to bed.

What’s one of your favorite reviews/comments you’ve ever received about your writing (on this book or any other)? Who did it come from and how did it impact you?

This is a paragraph from the first review I received for FOREST GIRL, and I still read it and think ‘Wow’:

There are not enough words to describe how much I loved this story. The author painted a vivid picture with her fantastical storytelling. She crafted a story that made you fall in love with the characters and their stories that they had to tell. There were moments where I ugly cried because of what happened between the characters, and I hurt because I knew they were hurting.  ~~Cranky – The Book Curmudgeon

What’s your biggest struggle as a writer (or what was your worst critique)? And how do/did you handle it?

My biggest struggle is finding time to write, since work and family obligations take a lot of my time. For a while now, I’ve started writing on my phone during my commute to and from work or whenever I’m in a car that I’m not driving. I then transfer it onto my WIP when I get home in the evening. This also helps to minimize interference from my inner editor. It’s a win-win.

What has been the high point of your career, so far?

My most recent high point as an author was being invited to a panel discussion on writing, literature, and the business of publication in Ghana as part of the inaugural Accra Book Festival.

What was the low point of your career? And how did you handle it?

A personal tragedy brought my then WIP too close to home, and I found myself unable to muster enough enthusiasm to write more than a few words a day. It took literally years to finally get past it and begin writing again.

Give us the name of a diverse author you’ve read that you would highly recommend to readers.

Amaka Azie, Nana Prah, Kiru Taye, Ines Johnson, Nana Malone, Aziza Eden Walker, Brenda Jackson.

What’s next on your writing journey?

I have at least 3 books coming out soon.

1) His Inherited Princess, book 2 of a multi-author Africa royal series (Yay!) from Love Africa Press. All three books in the (initial) series will release together, so there’ll be no waiting for readers.

2) Expecting Ty’s Baby, (sequel to Chancing Faith) will release in Spring 2019.

3) Another installment of the African royals series later in 2019.

There might also be a Valentine novella in the mix

What’s your favorite book on the writing craft or your favorite piece of advice to writers?

HOW TO WRITE by Chrys Fey.

It gives tips in bite-sized chapters, easy to read and digest.

How can we find you online?

Website: www.empibaryeh.com

Blog: empibaryehauthor.blogspot.com

Twitter: @EmpiBaryeh

Facebook: Empi Baryeh, Author

Instagram: EmpiBaryeh

Thank you, Empi, for taking the time to join us here at Diverse Romance.

Thank you so much for joining Diverse Romance today! Please check out Empi Baryeh’s latest releases in African Contemporary Romance and pick one up today!

 

 

Jamaican Author J.L. Campbell: From the Caribbean with Love

Jamaican Author J.L. Campbell: From the Caribbean with Love

The path from writer to published author is rarely a short, straight line. It’s usually long, winding, and replete with fits and starts and the challenges of finding the right balance between life and “the calling.”  J.L. Campbell’s love of writing and a dogged persistence paid off after a couple of decades, landing her the deal that sparked a prolific career. Today this Jamaican author weaves realistic and engaging characters and lush Caribbean settings into contemporary romance stories that will have you longing for your book boyfriend and calling your travel agent—yesterday. Join Diverse Romance today as J.L. shares a little background on her writing life and her new release—The Thick of Things!

I know you’ve been writing for a long time. Tell us a little more about your writing journey.

I’ve been writing for many years, stopped for 20 of them before I started again by writing short stories. I submitted queries to several agents and publishers before deciding to submit to an African-American publisher. The result was that she said yes to two manuscripts and I signed another contract with a second publisher at the same time. That was 2009. In 2011, I self-published a collection of short stories and kept on that path.

So, what sparked the idea for this for your latest release?

This new book is with Garden Avenue Press. Golf has been a part of my life for a long time and the idea for The Thick of Things started marinating in my brain when I was at a resort for a week during a golf event. I wondered what would happen if someone working at a tournament was attracted to someone she met there and what complications could arise if that happened.

The Thick of Things is about a woman who goes through upheaval in different areas of her life. Khalila loses her son and is on the edge of divorce. She lives in Jamaica and her love interest is from Antigua, but resides in Miami. The distance and her situation prove to be a challenge, but determination on the hero’s part turns things around and Khalila begins to explore possibilities she never thought possible.

Give five words that best describe this book. What message do you hope readers get?

Thought-provoking. Educational. Humorous (in parts). Descriptive. Poignant.

Life sometimes does not go as planned and we need to keep an open mind and adjust our expectations. Love never happens on a schedule and good things can come from bad situations.

Give us one or two of your favorite lines from your current book.

“My name on his tongue was a caress that scattered my thoughts.”

“His fingers roamed every hill and valley that defined my body.”

Hello! I can’t wait to pick up this read. Tell us about your writing space and your daily routine.

I have a small desk in a corner of my bedroom. Not ideal, I know, but it’s what I have to work with unless I move downstairs which is not as comfy. The television usually provides background noise while I write.

I don’t write every day, nor do I have a set routine. I write anytime, anywhere, as long as I have a few minutes.

What’s one of your favorite comments you’ve ever received about your writing? Who did it come from and how did it impact you?

I did a workshop with one of the Caribbean’s noteworthy writers (now deceased) some time ago. He looked at a vignette he’d asked me to write and asked how long I’d been writing and why I stopped. He then told me I should have been writing again ages ago. With his encouragement and recommendation, I submitted stories to a literary paper. Having those stories published gave me the oomph I needed to submit my novels to several publishers.

What’s your biggest struggle as a writer? And how do/did you handle it?

Sometimes, my biggest struggle is motivating myself to write. I’ve been trying different methods to find new readers and that has worked to an extent. Without a strong base of readers, this writing journey can feel like a lonely, uphill climb. The urge to write never leaves, no matter how long a break I take.

What has been the high point of your career, so far?

As weird as this may sound, that would be when I signed three contracts with two small publishers. That happened around the same time and launched me into the only thing I’ve done consistently over the years. Write.

What was the low point of your career? And how did you handle it?

I believe if people understood the power their words have to hurt, they would be less free with them. I’ve read some cutting reviews on my perma-free story collection that sucked away the desire to write. The only thing that kept me going then was that the work in question included several short stories that won awards.

Give us the name of a diverse author you’ve read that you would highly recommend to readers.

I’ve read several books by Nia Forrester and enjoy her stories thoroughly.    I am currently writing two books, an interracial novel for a boxed set and an inspirational story. After that, I’ll be writing book two of the In Medias Res series.

What’s your favorite book on the writing craft or your favorite piece of advice to writers?

My advice to writers (no matter what stage you’re at) is to continue to study the craft. No matter how long you’ve been at it, there is always you can learn that will improve your writing.

What is something your readers don’t know about you that you wish they would?

I sometimes write about subjects that can be controversial, but I doesn’t mean I’m promoting the lifestyle about which I’m writing.

How can readers connect with you online?

“Website: http://www.joylcampbell.com

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/jlcampbellwrites/

Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/iarreaderssuite

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1091161.J_L_Campbell

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jl.campbell/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JL_Campbell

Thank you so much for joining Diverse Romance today! Please check out J.L. Campbell’s latest releases in Caribbean Contemporary Romance and pick one up today!

 

Latina Romance Author Mia Sosa: Practice Makes Published

Latina Romance Author Mia Sosa: Practice Makes Published

Like many romance authors, Mia Sosa’s affair with the genre began as an early reader. Her love of story evolved into a passion for writing, driving her to abandon her decade-long career as an attorney and consume herself with the craft full-time. It was a gamble, but one that paid off, with a prestigious award and a three-book deal. Mia joins Diverse Romance to discuss her journey, challenges, and goals.

Mia, thank you for joining us today. For many writers, writing romance is more of a calling than a choice. Tell us about your writing journey and how you became a published author.

Like many romance writers, my journey to publication began with reading and loving romance at an early age (too early, some might say). Then over the course of a few years when I was a practicing attorney, I wrote the opening chapters of several books, none of which will ever see the light of day. After a decade of practicing, reading romance, and writing first chapters, I switched gears to write full-time in 2013. At first, it was a solitary venture. I read craft books, learned about the romance industry, and completed a book that lacked both a high-concept premise and a compelling conflict. Le sigh. Then I wrote some more. Eventually, I joined Romance Writers of America, found my critique partner, Olivia Dade, and signed with an agent who helped me tighten my premise. Still, the book never sold, but I wrote more books and entered them in contests. To my shock and delight, in March 2015, I received a call informing me that one of those books was a finalist in RWA’s Golden Heart contest. I signed a three-book deal shortly after that and published my first book, Unbuttoning the CEO, in December 2015.

Romance Writers of America is an incredible organization that has helped sparked the careers for many. Share more about what sparked the idea for your Love on Cue series.

My latest book is Acting on Impulse. It’s a fun and flirty romance about an unassuming man who travels to Aruba on vacation and meets a wonderful woman but neglects to tell her that he’s a Hollywood actor traveling incognito. Tori Alvarez, a Puerto Rican physical trainer from Philadelphia, wants nothing to do with Carter Stone when she learns who he really is, but when they return from vacation, Carter hires her to get him in shape for his next film role. Essentially, he puts himself at her mercy, and that’s when the fun begins.

Acting on Impulse sounds like a really fun story. What’s in store for the next book in the series?

In April, Pretending He’s Mine, the second book in the series, will be released into the wild. That story is a mix of tropey goodness: older brother’s best friend, forced proximity, pretend relationship, opposites attract, and more. Expect shenanigans.

Who doesn’t love shenanigans? If you had to use five words to describe this book what would they be? And what message do you hope readers get?

Fun. Flirty. Heartwarming. Sexy. Swoony. The past isn’t something you leave behind; it remains with you, becomes a part of who you are, and (hopefully) helps you become a better version of yourself.

In every book I write, there’s always one line that makes me think I nailed the story. Give us one of your favorites.

The first line of Acting on Impulse might be my all-time favorite: “I’m standing in the middle of an airplane aisle, inching my way to row 12, when I spot her. I don’t know her name, nationality, age, or occupation, but I know this: Someday I’m going to marry the woman sitting in 12D.”

Shifting gears a bit. There’s a lot of feast and famine in the career of an author in terms of those positives that help drive us to keep loving what we do. What’s one of your favorite comments you’ve ever received about one of your releases? Who did it come from and how did it impact you?

I will never forget my first reader email, which came from a writing friend who’d been having a bad week and was experiencing insomnia. She told me that she’d picked up my book at 3 o’clock in the morning and it pulled her out of her bad mood. She made a bunch of sweet comments about my writing, but I was just happy that my writing had impacted her in a positive way.

What are your greatest struggles as a writer? How do you handle them?

I’m really hard on myself. Mistakes are monumental. Missed deadlines are tragic. Insufficient words are grounds for chastising. I’d never make someone else feel bad about these things, but I have no problem expressing disappointment in my own perceived shortcomings. I have two daughters, one of whom is a lot like me, and I tell her that she is and always will be enough. Telling her this makes it easier to apply that same reasoning to my own actions.

What has been the high point of your career, so far?

The high point of my career so far was the publication of Acting on Impulse in September 2017. It’s the book that truly represents my “voice” as a writer, and it was gratifying to send it out into the world and receive so much love in response to it.

Have you experienced any low points in your career? How do you handle them?

I’m not sure that I can identify a low point, but I know I’ve experienced the typical ups and downs of being a writer. Some days, especially when I’m feeling overwhelmed, I question whether I should continue writing, and I think the process of swimming in these thoughts is itself harmful and unproductive. I pull myself out of these “funks” by focusing on the all of the wonderful aspects of publishing: the writing itself; the friends I’ve made; and the readers I’ve touched with my words.

Give us the name of a diverse author you’ve read that you would highly recommend to readers.

I highly recommend Tracey Livesay. She writes contemporary romances with strong heroes and equally strong heroines. When I read Tracey’s books, I often find myself nodding with the heroine as she makes an observation about life or the person she’s interacting with in a scene.

I haven’t read many historical romances, but I picked up Tempest by Beverly Jenkins last month and I was enthralled. The characters were so distinctive and well-developed. She’s an amazing author—and a generous and funny woman to boot.

What’s your favorite book on the writing craft?

I highly recommend Gwen Hayes’s Romancing the Beat. It’s a great tool for those of us who don’t plot every scene in our books but want to be sure their stories have “good bones.”

As authors, we have to focus on what’s out…and what’s next. What are your upcoming plans for new stories?

I’m starting on the third book in the Love on Cue series, which is tentatively titled Crashing Into Her. It’s the story of Tori’s best friend Eva and Tori’s cousin Anthony. Eva is a blast, and I’m so excited that she’ll be the next heroine to get her HEA.

Tell readers how they can connect with you online.

I’m always on social media, so readers can easily find me on Twitter (www.twitter.com/miasosaromance),

Facebook (www.facebook.com/miasosa.author), or

Instagram (www.instagram.com/miasosaromance).

I’m also a co-moderator of the 4 Chicas Chat Facegroup with Priscilla Oliveras, Sabrina Sol, and Alexis Daria (www.facebook.com/groups/4chicaschat).

Readers can also visit my website (www.miasosa.com), where they can find the latest news about my writing endeavors, sign up for my infrequent newsletter, or find a link to my email should they want to tell me how much they love me and my books. I’m kidding about that last one (sort of).

Thank you for joining us today. Please pick up Mia’s latest release in Latinx/Hispanic Contemporary Romance!

Nicki Night: A New York Romance with Writing

Nicki Night: A New York Romance with Writing

Writers often get their story inspirations from writing what they know…and Nicki Night knows New York. Born and raised in the great state, she found writing success in romance grounded in home and family. She has stopped by Diverse Romance today to share with us the details of her journey to Harlequin, the highs, lows, and the source of her page-turning tales.

Tell us about your writing journey.

I’d been writing for a long, long time and have written almost everything there is to write. I became intrigued by romance and decided to give it a try. At a romance conference, I pitched my story idea for The Barrington Brothers to an editor at Harlequin and week later was offered my first deal.

Attending romance conferences is such a great way for authors to get their stories in front of editors. What sparked the idea for your Chandler series?

I’m a born and bred New Yorker and love writing stories in and around New York. The concept of the Chandlers came to me when Harlequin offered me a second book deal and I wanted to write about a family that owned a consumer goods company. I love food and much of my family gatherings are all around food, so I thought it would be great to have this family, who hails from my mother’s home town in South Carolina, own a food business. It has really been lots of fun.

The South is practically synonymous with food sounds like an intriguing story. Tells us more about the Chandlers and your latest release.

Desire in a Kiss is my latest release. It’s Christian Chandler’s story. Chris is the only boy in the family clan with three sisters. Each has their own story. I’ve always been curious about online dating and asked a question to my friends on Facebook about whether or not they would engage in online dating. Also a close friend had just begun to date a gentleman that she’d met online. This inspired me to tell a story about a couple who met online and talk about the successes and fears of online dating.

Great inspiration. Give us five words that describe Desire…and what do you hope readers get from the story.

Sexy, inspiring, surprising, romantic, and passionate. I want readers to enjoy exploring love while being safe.

In almost every book I’ve written, I’ve had a favorite line. Share one of the favorite lines you’ve written.

This is from a book prior but I loved when one of my characters told his heroine, “I’m gonna make you love me.”

If Desire in a Kiss had a soundtrack, what would be the first three songs?

I Want To Be Your Lover, I Want to be Your Man, and Computer Love.

All right now. Makes me want to turn on the iPod. Switching gears, tell us about your writing space and your daily routine.

I have two writing spaces. One is my home office, which I have renamed, my “Writing Studio” because it sounds cool and kind of elegant. Plus it’s where I create my art so studio is fitting, besides being over the top. I love over the top, by the way. My ‘Studio’ is filled with books, art, images, and textiles from various aspects of my journey as a writer. It’s cozy and with a large l-shaped desk. I sit facing the window so I can be inspired by natural light. I love my space. When I’m not writing there, I go to Starbucks, which is also fun. I call the other patrons my ‘co-workers’ since we’re mostly there to work. I often talk about them on social media or add aspects of them to my writing.

Writing can be such a rollercoaster, filled with ups and downs. What’s one of your favorite reviews you’ve ever received? How did it impact you?

The most touching reviews I’ve ever received was an email from a woman who said that my books inspired her to hope. That’s it. The moved me.

What has been the high point of your career, so far?

Hm. Being nominated for awards. I don’t write for award recognition but it certainly feels great to be acknowledged

Lows in this business are inevitable. What’s your biggest struggle? And how do/did you handle it?

My biggest struggle is having enough time to write. I do so many other things and maintain a hectic schedule. I love all that I do and it’s hard to put things aside. I get through it, though.

What was the low point of your career? And how did you handle it?

I often get great reviews for my books. I got one bad review and a friend and fellow author had to talk me off the ledge. It actually made me question my writing and ponder if I wanted to continue. With all the time you spend writing and crafting these characters, your books are like your babies when they are complete. I felt like this reviewer was insulting my child. I have a great network of friends who are also authors, they share their bad reviews with me and reminded me that everyone gets one, even the best writers and the I wasn’t alone. I’ve developed much thicker skin since then and completely understand the reading is very subjective. I’m also in an MFA program and now have my work critiqued constantly. I’m used to feedback now, whether it’s good or critical.

One of the best things we can do with the blessings we receive as authors is pay it forward. Give us the name of a diverse author you’ve read that you would highly recommend to readers.

Lalita Tademy. In addition to romance, I love literary fiction and she’s writing two of my favorite books.

What’s next for your writing career?

More writing. More romances, and other genres.

What’s your favorite book on the writing craft?

The Emotional Thesaurus. I love that book!

What is something your readers don’t know about you that you wish they would?

I’m almost an open book, especially for those who follow me on Facebook. However, as much as I post, I try to keep my private like…well, private. One thing I would like for people to know is that I love teaching writing. Besides writing books, I could spend my entire days teaching writing.

Sounds like a great plan. Tell us how can we find you online?

I’m on Facebook, Instagram, & Twitter. Also, my website is being revamped and I plan to launch the new look by April 1st. When the time comes, check out NickiNight.com

Nicki, thank you so much for joining us on Diverse Romance today. Please check out her latest releases in contemporary romance.

Lisa Y. Watson: A “Conventional” Path to Writing Romance

Lisa Y. Watson: A “Conventional” Path to Writing Romance

Writers find their stories and characters in different ways. Lisa Y. Watson’s path to becoming an author began with a 80s TV show and a whisper from the universe urging her to attend a romance convention. That’s where she dared to accept an offer to co-write a book. Sixteen years and fifteen books later, she’s a national bestselling author who challenges herself to deliver love and romantic suspense stories that keep readers awake in the middle of the night and the pages turning. Lisa joined Diverse Romance today to detail her writing journey and share the experiences and lessons from which she’s learned along the way.

The saying “Fortune favors the bold” seems to reflect your writing journey. Tell us how you became a published author.

How I got started was by writing fan fiction for the popular 80’s TV show, Remington Steele. I loved the show, stumbled across fan fiction sites and was hooked. I started writing short stories based on the characters and developed quite an International following. While online, I came across the Romance SlamJam convention back in 2002. It was in Raleigh/Durham for a weekend. I lived in Aurora, Illinois. It was spur of the moment, and I had small children, but something was pressing me to go. So, my mom came up to help my husband watch the kids and I hopped a plane.

As an aspiring writer, attending the writer’s convention was the proverbial kid-in-the-candy-store experience. Here were all these big-named authors there, like Beverly Jenkins, Brenda Jackson, Donna Hill, Gwynne Forster, and the late Leslie Esdaile Banks (LA Banks). It was truly a wonderful experience getting to me them in such an intimate setting. And to see so many beautifully talented authors of color. Truly inspiring. I also [met] two ladies there that are now like sisters to me. One of them, Christian Romance author, Pat Simmons cornered me on her way out of a pitch to an editor. She literally walked up to me and said, “Lisa, wanna write a book with me?” I said, “Uh, yeah.” And the rest was history. We wrote the anthology, Love is Blind, with Essence Bestselling Author, Parry “Ebony Satin” Brown-Abraham and the rest is history. So, my advice to aspiring authors is to surround yourself with like-minded people, and don’t be afraid to attend writer’s groups, and conventions. It could change YOUR life forever. You walk in alone, I guarantee you’ll come out with at least one new friend and maybe even a book deal!

That’s some great advice—and a challenge for us introverted writers. Shifting gears a bit, tell us what sparked the idea for your new romantic suspense series.

The Love and Danger series I’m working on centers around characters that either meet, or re-connect under very intense, dangerous, circumstances. For the first book in the series coming out this summer, Dangerous Desires, the main characters parted ways, but find themselves orbiting each other again when one finds themselves in a life-or-death situation. It’s an IR (Interracial Romance) centered a sexy, smart, and no-nonsense scientist, and woman of color, Dr. Marena Benson, and her ex-boyfriend, and love of her life, gritty, gorgeous, and incredibly flawed, Colonel Coulter “Colt” McKendrick.

Your book Interview with Danger looks like a page-turner. What’s it about?

My latest novel, Interview with Danger, is a Romantic Suspense that centers on newly published author, Sasha Lambert. She writes a book entitled, The Passport Diaries. The book is loosely based on unforgettable people, and exotic locales she’s visited during her romance with with her Greek boyfriend, Milo Georgopoulos. Though she breaks up with him when his web of lies surrounding his marital state starts to crumble, he wants her back. There’s just one catch. She needs to ditch her tell-all book. And he’s not the only one whose feathers have been ruffled by Sasha’s new book. Her twin sister’s brother-in-law, Pierce Deveraux is also suffering blowback from her intriguing novel. In fact, he loses a few sports endorsements when he’s mistaken for one of the characters in her page-turner. Livid, Pierce hops a plane to London to confront Sasha about the damage she’s done to his livelihood. Neither one is prepared for the series of events that happen after their heated meeting takes place.

Woo! This has got me reaching for my one-click. What five words would say best describe Interview with Danger.

Hmm…Romantic. Dangerous. Turbulent. Chemistry. Blindsided.

One click indeed! Would you say there’s a prevalent theme or message?

One of the most important messages in this novel is a theme that I carry through all my novels. Family is everything. At the end of the day, they have your back no matter what. When one is in peril, a strong family-unit circles the wagons and watches your back. And also that love isn’t perfect. It’s flawed, messy, and doesn’t always show up when it’s convenient, and on your time schedule. When you least expect it…expect it.

How about sharing a couple of your favorite lines from the book to give readers a flavor for the characters?

“I just don’t understand,” she choked out. “Who would do something like this?”

Pierce shrugged while watching events unfold around them.  “Apparently, someone else you’ve pissed off.”

and…

“You hang on his every word, you can’t even say his name without smiling, and he looks at you like he’s a man starving to death and you’re butt naked wearing nothing but a pork chop and a bow.

Ha! Great quotes. If your latest book had a soundtrack, what would be the first three songs?

You Don’t Own Me (Lesley Gore), Loved Me Back To Life (Sia, song by Celine Dion), Moments in Love (Art of Noise). The last two were on my “Writing” playlist and I played them constantly while writing a few scenes.

Writing isn’t an easy task and it certainly doesn’t happen by magic. It’s one task that often leaves writers asking other writers, “How do you do it?” Share with us a few details about your writing space and routine.

My writing space is anywhere I’m at with my laptop. I’ve recently moved, so I’ve lost my designated office, but normally I’m on a couch with my laptop and two lap dogs, Brinkley and Lily by my side. Lily’s a puppy and hasn’t grasped the concept of not walking on, or licking mommy’s laptop, so when she gets going, she gets put in her kennel so I can work. Brinkley knows the deal and is very accommodating. I work full-time, from home, and I’m usually writing for work all day, so I eke out time where I can in the evenings to work on my novels, and social media. I’ve got note pads everywhere, so if inspiration strikes, I’m covered.

When deep in the thick of writing, pushing through our routines, readers often keep writers going in tough times. What’s a favorite comment you’ve received from your readers?

My favorite is when a reader tells me that they lost sleep because of a book of mine they were reader. I was a reader before I was a writer. So I’ve been there. Delaying eating, bathroom breaks, work, etc. because I was so wrapped up in the novel I was reading that I didn’t want to put it down. That to me speaks volumes. It is what makes me want to continue to do what I do. To write novels and try to get them out there to the readers that may benefit in some way from what I have to say.

On the flip side of that, what would you say is your worst critique? How did you handle it?

I recall being down about a harsh review I’d received for Love Contract from The Match Broker Series (Harlequin Kimani). The main character, Milan Dixon, is mixed race, Black and Hispanic), so she’s bilingual. Much later she finds out that her counterpart, Adrian Anderson is fluent in Spanish. So, some of their dialogue in the book is in Spanish, but if one spoke in Spanish, the other answered in English so the reader could still follow the conversation. Most loved it, but one woman gave a scathing review and said if she’d have known Spanish would be in the book, she wouldn’t have bought it.

The review really got me down until one reader sagely pointed out that my stories will never be everyone’s cup of tea. The story will touch those that it’s meant to touch. After that, I stopped staying up at night agonizing over a bad review.  Some people get so caught up in the anonymity of the Internet, and the seduction of being able to say whatever you want, to whomever you want, however you want to say it. Some lose sight of the fact that their words matter. I always choose my words carefully when doing something like leaving an opinion, a review on someone else’s work. Why? Because there is a real person on the other end receiving it. A living, breathing person that has feelings, and emotions. Writing a book, an opinion, a poem, letter, or whatever it is, is a very personal experience. You are giving something of yourself that’s coming from your very soul. It’s not something that is done lightly. And though we are in fact choosing to give ourselves over to public scrutiny, we are compelled to do so by Divine inspiration, by our Muse or whatever a person feels drives them to be creative.  There is always more than one way to say something to get your point across. A way that can voice your displeasure, without coming at someone full-throttle with the maximum amount of venom. I always recall the sage advice my mother, and grandmother used to say, “If you don’t have anything nice to say…don’t say anything.”

What was the low point of your career?

Getting caught up worrying if I was good enough to continue writing. As far as how I handled it, I allowed myself the time to wallow (with ice cream), asked myself, who am I to sit on my spiritual gifts? And then got back to work.

With the lows, come highs. What has been the high point of your career, so far?

The high point has been the continued support from readers, and by going to writer’s conventions, being able to meet people that wouldn’t normally cross my path. I’m one of the publicists for the RT Booklovers Convention. I’ve attended over 12 of them over the years, and it’s allowed me the ability to meet phenomenal people. Readers,  authors, movie stars, television and soap opera stars, people who I’d have never met had I never gone to that first writer’s convention and set myself on this path. There is not one day that goes by that I am not thankful for, and humbled by, my God-given talent to touch people with my words.

At Diverse Romance, we believe that lifting up one diverse author helps uplift us all. Give us the name of a diverse author you’ve read that you would highly recommend to readers

LaVerne Thompson. She’s a phenomenal author that writes in several genres and is fearless when it comes to writing stories that engage readers.

What’s your favorite piece of advice to writers?

My advice to fellow writers: Don’t get caught up writing what you think readers will want to read. Write the stories that are in your gut, begging to be set free.  When your heart isn’t in it, that comes through in your writing as if you’d used yellow highlighter on it.  A very wise woman once told me, write as if no one is watching.

What is something your readers don’t know about you that you wish they would?

That I LOVE connecting with readers at events, and on Social Media, so if you want to reach out, don’t be afraid to do so.

You’ve certainly had a full career. What’s next on your writing journey?

Alexa King: The Guardian. It will be book one in my new Lady Doyen series. A Romantic Suspense series [that] will tap into the strength, power and purpose that as women all of us share.

How can we find you online?

Connect with me on Social Media:  Facebook (NCLisaWatson), Twitter(@LisaYWatson), Goodreads (LisaYWatson), Pinterest (LisaYWatson), Instagram (LisaYWatson), and www.lisawatson.com

Thank you for joining us today! Please check out Lisa’s latest releases in contemporary romance and seasonal fiction.