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.

 

Read Love Reviews: 100 Words on Beverly Jenkins’ TEMPEST

Read Love Reviews: 100 Words on Beverly Jenkins’ TEMPEST

Contemporary Romance Addicts!

Two words describe the reason you’ll fall in love with historical romance: Beverly Jenkins. Simply masterful. Whatever misperceptions you’ve got about historicals—they’ll vanish with one read.

I’d call Tempest, “How to get HAWT in the Old West.”

via GIPHY

Woo! Romance and steam galore.

Set in post-Emancipation Paradise, Wyoming, we follow the mail-order marriage between the strong and sassy rifle-toting Regan Carmichael and cautious widower Dr. Colton Lee. Regan joins her ready-made family with a chilly reception and a fast bullet. Through drama, danger, and adventure the initial conflict evolves to deliver the happily ever after we crave.

Elle Wright: Love, Loss, and the Edge of Scandal

Elle Wright: Love, Loss, and the Edge of Scandal

For Elle Wright, finding love after loss is a driving theme, both in her new Wellsprings series novel, Touched by You and in her life. After discovering her passion for romance writing and landing her first publishing deal with Grand Central for the debut novel we now know as The Forbidden Man, the universe dealt Elle a devastating blow, one that threatened to derail a promising career. But she persisted through her life’s challenges and difficulties to not only finish the Scandal series but to begin two more. Elle took some time to sit down with Diverse Romance to reveal details on her writing and how a dream helped her work through her pain to once again embrace her passion.

 Your journey to becoming a published author is a very relatable one. Why don’t you tell us about it?

As a child, I loved to make up stories. I played with Barbie dolls, and I would put my dolls through some serious changes. LOL Yet, I never thought I’d actually write a book. I’ve always loved television, so I wanted to write scripts for a soap opera.

I just sort of fell into writing novels. I started a journal in college, but I wasn’t writing about my life. My journal turned into a long, dramatic saga about a young black girl in college, navigating the world and her relationships. Soon, I would give daily updates on her life at dinner to my friends. Once I married and had my daughter, I was home with her and started putting all my journals together into a book (that will probably never see the light of day). I think that’s when I knew I could do it.

It was also during that time that my mother gave me my first romance novel, Indigo by Beverly Jenkins. I fell in love with the setting, the characters, everything. Indigo is still my favorite book today, and it changed my life. It inspired me.

A few years later, I had finished a novel I called “The Affair,” which would eventually become The Forbidden Man, but then I had a vivid dream about a group of assassins who hid in an elaborate bunker, five floors below ground. The dream was so real that I shared it with friends and family and they encouraged me to write the book. I did. I found a small, indie publisher that took it on and I published it under a different pen name (it is not available anymore). I didn’t know anything about publishing, other than what I’d researched online, so I took a gamble and signed up for the Romantic Times Convention in Chicago. My hope was the learn about promotion and marketing. I also figured I’d pitch The Affair. At that conference, I met Latoya Smith, who would later buy “The Affair” and my Edge of Scandal series for Grand Central’s Forever Romance. And the rest, as they say, is history.

I remember buying The Forbidden Man when it first hit the shelves in Target, and I couldn’t wait to read more from you. What’s on tap for your next release and what sparked the idea for your new Wellspring series?

Touched by You is the first book in my new Wellspring series. I love to set my novels in Michigan, and I tend to stick to the Southeast side of the state because that’s my home base.

After I finished Edge of Scandal, so many readers were asking why Caden (“Den”) didn’t get his own story, so I originally set out to write his redemption story. I knew that he wouldn’t find redemption where he was, and that I needed to get him away from everybody. He needed a fresh start.

An idea came to mind to create a fictional town with a mostly African American population. I knew I wanted the town to be small, but not too small. I also knew that I wanted the town to be the home to a large corporation. Wellspring Water Corporation was born. Parker Wells Sr. was the CEO of the company and basically controlled the town (and not in a good way). I liked the idea of building this town around the company and exploring the history between the families who founded the town. Since Parker Wells Sr. was the villain, I figured I’d start with his children. Although Caden didn’t make the final cut for this story, I hope the readers will enjoy Carter and Brooklyn’s story.

Sounds like a setting made for more romance and more scandal. You describe Touched by You with some powerful words — Intense, Emotional, Scandalous, HOT, romantic, and funny! Tell us more about the themes and characters.

Touched by You explores finding love after devastating loss. Carter Marshall’s house was set ablaze by a young white man simply because he lived in an upper middle class, mostly African American, neighborhood in Detroit. The beginning of the book opens with Carter Marshall, who has spent the past two years of his life seeking justice for the murder of his wife and daughter.

Carter needs a break from his life, and decides to take on a project with Wellspring Water. There he meets Brooklyn, who is dealing with her overbearing father’s manipulations. Brooklyn is unlike any woman he’s ever met, and she begins to melt the ice around his heart.

Brooklyn is the only daughter of Parker Wells Sr., and she has done her best to distance herself from Wellspring Water Corporation. She wants to help, not hurt people. However, her father has a business deal riding on an arranged marriage to a state senator’s son. When Brooklyn rebels, she pretty much loses everything.

Brooklyn and Carter meet by accident, and forge a tentative friendship that eventually turns to love.

It sounds as if there will be some sizzling chemistry between Brooklyn and Carter. What message do you hope readers get from this story?

For this book, I want readers to know that there is life after loss, that it is possible to love again, to be whole again.

Most writers can pinpoint some narrative or dialogue that cuts to the heart of a message or theme in their book. How about sharing one or two of your favorites?

Carter was so wrapped up in Brooklyn’s energy that he was rendered speechless when her mouth met his. A warmth shot through his body, right before it disappeared. Because she disappeared. And he couldn’t say if he was relieved or disappointed.

Brooklyn gripped Carter’s chin, forcing him to meet her gaze. “So forgive yourself. You didn’t cause the fire and you didn’t ignite the flames. You were a victim just like Krys and Chloe were. The only difference is you were the one that was left to pick up the pieces. Just like we have the right to choose our path, you have to choose to move forward. It’s not easy. But I have to believe it’s worth it, that life is worth the pain. Because on the other side of pain, is joy—even in the midst of sorrow.”

So, let’s switch gears a bit. To keep all of your publishers happy and stay on schedule, you’ve got to get words on the page. Tell us about your writing space and your daily routine.

My favorite place to write is in my bedroom. I usually just prop myself up on some pillows and write. Before I write, I queue up my playlist (every book has a soundtrack). And I also have to have the TV on mute in the background. Not sure why (LOL). I try to write every evening, but life sometimes happens.

Whats one of your favorite reviews/comments youve ever received about your writing? Who did it come from and how did it impact you?

One of my favorite reviews was the first one I received, from author J.D. Mason. “This gripping debut is packed with drama and a love triangle that will certainly tug at the old heartstrings. Ms. Wright’s entry into the world of romance is a memorable one that I’m sure readers will enjoy from the first page to the last.” WOW! I was on cloud nine after this because I am a huge fan and to know that she liked my book was awesome!

Along with those great reviews come challenges. What’s been your biggest struggle as a writer? And how do you handle it?

I think my biggest struggle changes with every book. LOL Right now, it’s finding the time. My daughter is a senior in high school, and it’s so hard to find the time to do everything I need to do for her, work a day job, and write. I have to force myself to sit down and focus.

The end of a challenge or struggle usually means progress. What’s been the high point of your career, so far?

Oh, there have been so many high points. Every day, I have to pinch myself. I feel so blessed to be on this journey. To be in the room with authors I’ve read and admired still makes me giddy with excitement.

But if I had to narrow it down to one, I would say my high point was the moment Ms. Beverly Jenkins contacted me about doing a signing with her in my hometown. She’s my favorite author, and I was absolutely ecstatic. That was years ago, but now I actually talk to her. LOL I have her phone number. And I’m still a fangirl!

The low points in our careers often serve as “come to Jesus” moments when we have to decide if we really want to be authors. What was the low point of your career? And how did you handle it?

My lowest point was absolutely the death of my mother. It was around that time that I was revising The Forbidden Man, getting it ready to submit to agents.

I couldn’t find the strength to keep going, even though I tried. It was the worst time of my life, because my mother had been so instrumental in my journey. She was my best friend. I had to allow myself time to grieve. Finally, she came to me in a dream and told me, “You have got to find a way to get through this.” God, therapy, a strong support system in my family, and time. I still struggle with it daily, but I know I have to keep going. For her, for my family, for myself.

Having lost my own mother at the beginning of my career, I think few understand how a death of that magnitude can take the air out of your lungs. I know your readers are glad you were able to overcome the dark space to write again. Shifting to a lighter topic, we always like to help introduce readers to diverse authors they perhaps haven’t read before. Give us the name of a diverse author youve read that you would highly recommend to readers.

Of course, I’m going to say Beverly Jenkins. She’s my favorite author, and she’s phenomenal. But there are so many other authors that are doing their thing in this industry.

Beverly Jenkins, hands down, has been the most named author in Diverse Romance interviews. She is truly an inspiration. Whats next on your writing journey?

Touched by You (Wellspring #1) will release on May 29, 2018. Wherever You Are (The Jacksons of Ann Arbor #2) will release on June 1, 2018.

I’m also working on another (or three) collaboration with the amazing authors, Sherelle Green, Sheryl Lister, and Angela Seals. We published a series called Once Upon a Bridesmaid back in September 2017, and we’re cooking up the follow up to that series with Once Upon a Baby for Summer 2018.  So many amazing events [are] coming up that I can’t wait to reveal.

Basically, I’m all over the place. I’s tired, boss! (LOL) But I’m so grateful. This has been such a wild, crazy, emotional, fun ride. I wouldn’t trade it for the world, though.

I always think it’s great to pay forward your experience and best practices to aspiring writers. Whats your favorite book on the writing craft or your favorite piece of advice to writers?

My favorite piece of advice to writers is something I heard. “Sit down and write the book.”

And a hearty Amen to that! Write and finish! What a great way to wrap up. Thank you for joining us, Elle! We hope you come back to visit for your next release. 

You can find Elle Wright online at:

Website: http://www.ellewright.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ElleWrightAuthor

Twitter: @LWrightAuthor

Instagram: @lrwright09

Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ElleWritesBooks/

Please check out Elle’s latest releases in our African American Contemporary Romance section.

Priscilla Oliveras: Latinx Love, Romance, and Familia

Priscilla Oliveras: Latinx Love, Romance, and Familia

Sometimes sharing the diversity of your truth can lead you to success in the publishing industry, a reality for Latina author Priscilla Oliveras. Early in her career, she embraced the industry’s grain instead of embracing the uniqueness of her heritage–something that would prompt a shift in her perspective and her writing. Learning the lesson from this experience helped her find her voice and develop stories that embody what’s unique and beautiful about the Puerto Rican influences in her world, her family, her life, and love. Writing what she knows, from the heart, helped her score a publishing deal with Kensington’s Zebra Shout imprint and find a devoted audience who love her sweet romances that highlight the complexities of love and family with splashes of Latinx culture intertwined. Priscilla joined Diverse Romance to share with our readers the lows, highs, and lessons of her writing journey.

Tell us about your journey to becoming a published author.

Goodness, I’ve been writing for over two decades. I started my first book when I was a married college student with a newborn and, due to a military move, I had to take a semester off of school. Over the years I’ve raised three daughters, earned several degrees and moved across the US and the Pacific Ocean. There were times when I barely got a word on the page…life’s responsibilities have a tendency to take priority. However, I’m a long-time member of Romance Writers of America (RWA), and I do believe that the friends, mentors, and contacts I’ve made along the way helped to keep stoking the fire within me to write, to get published, and to eventually hold my own book in my hands. The first few books I wrote were big learning opportunities for me as I made that jump from reader to writer. I’ll admit that those early books emulated the books I saw on the shelf. Meaning, not much diversity. But as I grew in my craft and started coming into my own as a writer, I realized the stories in my head, the ones I wanted to share, were a lot like the world I actually live in—filled with diversity, especially with a Latinx influence.

I think many diverse authors struggle with writing mainstream to fit in versus writing our truth to stand out. It sounds as if you’ve struck the right balance. What sparked the idea for this Matched to Perfection series?

HER PERFECT AFFAIR is the second book in the MATCHED TO PERFECTION series featuring my beloved Fernández sisters—Yazmine, Rosa and Lilí. All three sisters have their own unique personality, yet they share a love for their Puerto Rican heritage and a deep devotion to their familia. All of my books have a Latinx flavor along with family themes, mostly because those are important aspects in my life. They say write what you know. For me, I enjoy writing about and sharing with readers the aspects of my life that are important to me—my culture and my familia.

What five words would you say best describe the stories in this series?

Let’s see…complicated, touching, emotional, family-centered, feel-good

I love to hear which lines really strike a chord with the writer when developing a story. Share a few of your favorites. 

Sí, tonight Rosa Fernandez had finally decided to break away from the wallflowers and take a walk on the wild side.

A slow heartbeat later, she twisted her hand so they were palm to palm. Their fingers laced, the small sign of unity giving him a measure of hope.

She gazed up at him, her expression an interesting mix of confidence and vulnerability.

Gently, he caressed her silky hair, amazed by how drawn he was to her. How badly he wanted to protect her, care for her.

Dios mío, the very idea terrified her, which meant it was exactly the right thing.

Oh, my! Breaking away from the wallflowers. As a certified wallflower, I really want to find out what happens next.  Let’s shift gears for minute. Why don’t you tell us about your writing space and your daily routine.

Well, I teach at a local college Monday-Thursday this semester, so my big writing days are Friday-Sunday. But, I do have a daily word count on my teaching days, too. Especially when I’m on deadline.

As for my writing space, it changes from time to time, depending on my mood, the weather, how stressed I am about my word count, etc. At home, we have a small office where I can write, but I also move outside to our covered porch if the weather’s nice. I have a great travel standing desk that I can take anywhere. I love it because it makes dance breaks from writing a little easier. ☺ With my teaching schedule, I also write on campus before/after class, and I’ve been known to write in my car in between work and going into the gym for Zumba. Again, when you’re on deadline, you get your writing in wherever, whenever you can. It’s kinda like: Have laptop, will write all the time.

Whats one of your favorite reviews/comments youve ever received about your writing? Who did it come from and how did it impact you?

My publisher recently shared the first official review for HER PERFECT AFFAIR and I was immensely relieved and pleased that Publishers Weekly gave the book a Starred Review. I worked so hard on Rosa and Jeremy’s story. There was intense pressure—that I put on myself—to do a good job with the second in the series. I love Rosa. She’s the quiet, generous sister that hadn’t realized her own strength until it was tested. So I really wanted to be sure I gave her and Jeremy the best I had.

Publishers Weekly said: “Oliveras tops her excellent debut, His Perfect Partner, with this revelatory, realistic second romance set among the Puerto Rican community in contemporary Chicago… (her) integration of cultural and class differences, familial expectations, and career objectives into the couple’s romantic decision making immeasurably enriches a moving plot about good people making difficult choices.

That they saw how “good” Rosa and Jeremy are and how they struggled to do the right thing even when it was difficult, which I really wanted to show, really touched me. I guess, in the same way, I hope my characters and their stories touch my readers.

Publisher’s Weekly! That’s exciting. Inevitably in the midst of our successes, we struggle. What would you say is your biggest struggle as a writer? And how do you handle it?

Starting a new book. Ooh, that Imposter Syndrome can be brutal. I doubt myself, my abilities as a writer, and whether or not the previous books were flukes. Then, I can let myself get bogged down in research or getting to know my characters, anything but putting new words on the page.  What gets me out of it? Honestly, deadlines. And my desire to not disappoint someone (my agent or editor) by not meeting a set deadline. Those are real motivators–deadlines and my Catholic guilt. ☺

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

Unfortunately, this business comes with rejection. That’s the sad part of it. I was thiiiiiiiis close to selling a time or two over the years. Then an editor left the publisher or the revisions I made weren’t quite what they wanted. But, honestly, we all get bad news at one time or another. It’s how we respond that counts. Me? Well, first I eat chocolate and let myself whine for a bit…but after that, I try to see, is there a teachable moment in there somewhere? If not, I work (sometimes struggle) to put it behind me, remember a positive moment and focus on that as I keep on keeping on.

As all writers know, it’s the successes that get us through the rough spots. What would you say has been the high point of your career, so far?

I try to look at each step, each little or big success as a high point, celebrating each as they come. My Golden Heart finals; getting “The Call” from my agent; signing my first contract with Kensington; receiving the box of ARCs for my debut, HIS PERFECT PARTNER,;my first official signing with Kensington at RWA National in Orlando last year; my first release day,;being asked to write the Christmas novella; getting my first reader email; getting positive reviews…they’re all blessings I am extremely thankful for. Do I hope more come my way? Of course. But what I’ve been given thus far, and having family and friends to celebrate with…true blessings.

We really want to promote diverse authors and stories. Give us the name of a diverse author youve read that you would highly recommend to readers.

Oh gosh, there’s more than one—thankfully the list of diverse authors who are published continues to grow. We need more! It goes without saying that Beverly Jenkins is an icon many of us look up to and admire, so she’d have to take the top spot. After that, these fabulous authors come to mind, too: Sonali Dev, Mia Sosa, Alexis Daria, Sabrina Sol, Falguni Kothari…I’d recommend readers check out @WOCRomance and especially that they bookmark this site because it’s a place for diverse authors to be celebrated and embraced!

As we wind down in this interview, whats next on your writing journey?

I’m working on a short contemporary romance that’s part of a four-author series for Tule. The series, Paradise Key, features books by Shirley Jump, Kyra Jacobs, Susan Meier and me, with my book, Resort to Love, releasing third in the series, late-May.

Also, I’m super excited to share that books 2 & 3 in my MATCHED TO PERFECTION series will release this year–HER PERFECT AFFAIR on March 27 and THEIR PERFECT MELODY on November 27.

Plus, this holiday season, I’ll be introducing one of the Fernández sisters’ cousins, Julia, in a novella titled HOLIDAY HOME RUN that will be included in Fern Michael’s A SEASON TO CELEBRATE Christmas anthology.

My hope is to continue growing the Fernández family tree and create other Latinx families for readers to fall in love with.

I believe in paying it forward, especially with advice to writers who hope to achieve success. Whats your favorite book on the writing craft or your favorite piece of advice to writers?

The first book I recommend to any beginning author is Deb Dixon’s Goal, Motivation, and Conflict. It’s a great book for helping to create your characters. Another book that I’ve found extremely helpful is a text from my MFA program at Seton Hill University—Pamela Regis’s A Natural History of the Romance Novel. It does a wonderful job of breaking down the essential plot elements in a romance and takes you through different subgenres over the years, dissecting classics to show how the elements can be woven together to craft a Keeper Shelf novel. I actually give a presentation using Regis’s text and the romantic comedy “You’ve Got Mail.” ☺

To learn more about Priscilla, visit her online at:

Website: www.prisoliveras.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/prisoliveras

Facebook author/reader groups: https://www.facebook.com/groups/FictionFromTheHeart/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/4chicaschat/

Twitter: @prisoliveras

Instagram: prisoliveras

Amazon: amazon.com/author/prisoliveras

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/POliverasGoodreads

Check out Priscilla’s current and upcoming romance releases in the Contemporary section of this site.

Keith Thomas Walker:  A Man’s Take on Romance

Keith Thomas Walker: A Man’s Take on Romance

While romance fiction is widely loved and enjoyed by women authors and readers, fewer men have embraced the genre, some writing under pseudonyms to conceal their real identities and better appeal to female audiences. Keith Thomas Walker fought past his misperceptions about the genre and his fear of propagating stereotypical tropes to find his voice, write meaningful, relatable romance stories about diverse characters dealing with harsh realities–and eventually land his first book deal. Like other bestselling authors who have tackled multifaceted characters and subjects in romance sub-genres–Eric Jerome Dickey, E. Lynn Harris, Colin Channer, and J.J. Murray–Keith successfully launched his career after several fits and starts. Over time, he grew a steady following of devoted readers by delivering fresh perspectives on love and relationships and appealing to a desire for complex heroes and heroines embroiled in page-turning drama until they found some form of a happily ever after. Keith stopped by Diverse Romance to share his journey into the world of romance and some of the highs, lows, and lessons of his career.

Tell us about your journey to become a published author.

It’s been a long road.  I started off writing poetry and short stories in grade school.  When my teachers began to take interest in me and encourage my writing, I gave it my all as early as the fifth grade.  I continued through high school, winning nearly every short story or essay contest thrown at me, and I finally wrote my first novel when I got to college.  It got rejected by everyone!  Lol.  I actually got discouraged and gave up writing for nearly a decade.  But I started again with a romance novel.  That was Fixin’ Tyrone.  It got picked up immediately, published in 2009, and I’ve been publishing books ever since

How did you come to write in the romance genre, a genre driven by female readers and writers? Which romance sub-genres (suspense, urban, contemporary) do you prefer and why?

Initially I didn’t want to write romance novels.  When I first started writing, the idea of having a topless guy on the cover of one of my books was not appealing!  Lol.  I laugh because my first published novel has a topless guy on the cover.  When I wrote my first book (Fixin’ Tyrone), I wanted a love story, but I also wanted to broach topics that were important to me, such as a black man’s struggle with going to prison, avoiding the recidivism rate when he gets out and putting his life back together.  It was important to me that he reestablished a relationship with his children and avoid the pitfalls many freed inmates faced.  When I realized I could put all of these things in a romance novel, I was sold.
Tell us about your romance novels (One on One and/or The Realest Ever)?
One on One is one of my faves. It’s a bout a football player who was forced into early retirement due to an injury. After a couple of reckless years, during which he blew the little football money he had and lost his wife, Marquis falls back on coaching high school for income.  He wants to coach football, of course, but ends up with a girl’s basketball team. Hilarity ensues, and romance with one of the players’ parents follows. Marquis grows a lot during his first year teaching and learns that girls aren’t horrible athletes, as he believes in the beginning.
The Realest Ever is my best-selling novel. I take the formula of childhood friends exploring their feelings for each other as adults to a new level.  I think the thing that stands out the most with Donovan and Kyra’s relationship is his devotion to her since they were in grade school.  Kyra comes from a very bad home, and Donovan’s two-parent household is a refuge for her. The things Donovan does to try to save his friend are heart-wrenching.  By the time they get to high school, Donovan and Kyra realize there’s more to each other than friendship, but before they can act on it, an incident forces Kyra to move out of state, and they don’t speak for 15 years. When Kyra returns to Overbrook Meadows as an adult, her life is still in disarray, and of course Donovan is there to help her. Only now, there are no obstacles between the romance they avoided when they were younger.
You write a couple of series across multiple genres which isn’t an easy feat. Tell us about them.  

I have a few series.  In the Brick House series, I wanted a strong heroine.  Korah is the owner of a constructing and contracting company.  She’s the matriarch of her family.  I normally don’t write about “”rich”” characters, but I made an exception here.  Brick is the owner of a competing company called Brick House.  He’s strong, cocky and as determined as Korah.  Their chemistry is not immediate!

I also have the Finley High series.  These books are written for ages 12-18.  The first one, Prom Night at Finley High, deals with teenage pregnancy.  The second book, Fast Girls at Finley High, focuses on peer-pressure, drug use and other adolescent pitfalls.  The last one, Bullies at Finley High, is, as the title suggests, about bullies.  All of these books are timely and important reads.

My most recent series is Backslide.  Kole is gritty, streetwise and dangerous.  His  love interest, Dana, wants to steer him clear of his old lifestyle, but circumstances compel him to return.  Their chemistry is dynamic and fiery, right from the start.” Backslide 2 is my latest release.  As mentioned in the previous question, Kole is trying his best to go the straight and narrow, but when a good friend is murdered, he is drawn back in to a criminal organization he once headed.  When his enemies target the woman he loves, Kole becomes even more unhinged.  There is a lot of diversity in Backslide 2.  In this story, Kole’s group is mostly comprised of African Americans.  He seeks helps from a Hispanic gang and is shocked to discover his true enemy is a white power gang.  To avoid spoilers, I won’t go into any further details, but this is a great read, as is the first Backslide.

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

Compelling, intriguing, sexy, enlightening, action-packed

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

“I ain’t never been of the Martin Luther King, let’s hold hands and sing kumbaya while they throw bricks at us, mind state.  When it came to stuff like that, I would’ve been rolling with Malcolm.”

Tell us about your writing space and your daily routine.

I take my writing space whenever and wherever I can. On a plane, at a restaurant, in the break room at work, at the dining table or in my bed.  I’m not particular.

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

In one of my reviews for the first Backslide, a reader described Kole as “the new Easy Rawlins.”  That was major, because Walter Mosley is one of my favorite authors, especially his Easy Rawlins series.  To have one of my characters compared to him is huge.  I think, possibly because of that review, I ramped up Kole’s mystery-solving in the second Backslide.

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

My biggest struggle is editing.  I don’t like to do it, would much rather spend my time writing new material.  I can write when I’m a little sleepy or even with a beer in hand, but when I edit, I must be fully awake and alert and without interruption.  And I REALLY don’t like it when my editor wants me to make major revisions.  But I always listen to her and the books come out much better.  There’s no easy way to handle my editing issues, other than getting plenty of sleep ahead of time and knocking it out without procrastinating.

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

I’ve won a lot of awards, all of which are high points, but getting the rights back for my first seven book is the HIGHEST point of my writing career.  I signed those contracts in 2009-2012.  Normally the rights would’ve reverted back to me when the books went out of print, but that didn’t happen.  It took a lot of hard work, patience and legal wrangling to get my rights back, but I finally got them a few months ago.  I’m ecstatic about that!

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

The low point would be the 5 and a half years I fought to get my book rights back.  Those were dark and depressing times.

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

Beverly Jenkins

Whats next on your writing journey?

I’m going to write more!  I’m currently working on Threesome 2, and then I’m going to write Election Day for Decades of African American Romance.  And then I’ll get back to some of the books I recently received my rights back for.  I have to re-release them, which calls for more editing, revisions and formatting.  I normally don’t like that stuff, but I haven’t read these books in so long, I honestly don’t mind.

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

My favorite piece of advice to writers is WRITE.  Every day, if possible.  No painter, drummer, ball player or whatever becomes great because they do it every now and then.  They do it relentlessly, probably since they were kids.  You have to write more to get better at it.  Reading a lot helps, too.

Catch Keith online at:

“http://www.keithwalkerbooks.com/

https://www.facebook.com/keith.t.walker?ref=name

https://www.instagram.com/keithwalkerbooks/

https://twitter.com/kwalkerbooks”

Check out Keith’s current and upcoming romance releases in the Contemporary and Urban Romance sections on this site!

Nana Prah: Bringing African Romance to Readers Everywhere

Nana Prah: Bringing African Romance to Readers Everywhere

No matter who you are, no matter where you come from, the longing for romantic love is universal and why this genre has such a broad appeal and committed passionate following. Nana Prah fell in love with romance because she loves a happy ending. She weaves Ghanaian and South African roots into the pages of her My Destiny Africa Series, delivering happily ever afters full African passion and soul–while touching on a disturbing, sensitive topic that impacts too many women globally. Nana spent some time sharing her journey and work with Diverse Romance and providing some enlightening perspectives on a tough subject.

Tell us about your journey to becoming a published author.

My journey started about seven years ago when I wrote my first romance. That book still sits somewhere on my computer untouched after only having been read by my beta readers. I figured it would take less energy to write a new book than it would to fix that one, so I started my second book, Love Through Time. I got it published by Black Opal Books.

I was really intrigued by your Destiny series. I’ve read books by Caribbean authors but never one set in Africa.  What sparked the idea for your romance series?

I was propelled to write the first book of the Destiny Africa Series as part of an African romance writing competition. Midwife to Destiny won third place. When it got published, I couldn’t have been happier. My romance novel represented a true Africa (Ghana and touristy South Africa), a place where people work, converse, have adventures, and fall in love. Destiny Awakened is not my latest (released a month earlier than A Perfect Caress), but it’s one of my most controversial. The book deals with the heroine, Gloria, having experienced female genital mutilation when she was younger and how it has affected her life. The hero, Kamal, has his own issues to contend with so between both of their dramatic lives, the pressure of planning a wedding, and their unexpected chemistry, the reader will keep the pages turning.

My Destiny Africa Series consists of four books published by Decadent Publishing. My latest release, A Perfect Caress, was published by Harlequin Kimani and I’m excited to announce that book two in that series, Path to Passion, will be released in July 2018.

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

Friendship and love overcome shame.

The book is not preachy by any means, which is what my publisher loved about it, but it does bring awareness to the existence of female genital mutilation and how it is still going on in the world (and needs to be stopped – okay, so that part was preachy).

All writers seem to have a line or two in their books that they feel nail the characters and their stories. Give us one or two of your favorite lines.

His touch did more to spark her nether regions than experimenting on her own body had. All ideas that it was wrong to give herself pleasure disappeared. She couldn’t wait to try again.

His gaze bore into hers. “I’m going to court you, Gloria Anokye. By the time I’m through, you’ll be comfortable enough to seduce me.”

Courting. I love that. It’s one of the reasons I love romance and can’t wait to read this series. Whats one of your favorite reviews/comments youve ever received about your writing? Who did it come from and how did it impact you?

One of my favorite reviews of all time came from Sharonda Isadora from Brazen Babes Reviews. She got so in depth when reviewing Love Undercover that I read the whole thing with a huge smile. She even called it humorous which meant a lot to me, because I can be funny in real life, but to make it come out in a story is quite the feat.

It’s those favorite reviews and comments that get us through struggles. Whats your biggest struggle as a writer? And how do you handle it?

Marketing. If all I had to do was write, that would be the life. Unfortunately, without marketing, no one would know about all of my lovely books. One of those necessary evils, um, nope I did mean evils of being a writer.

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

When I handed over a copy of A Perfect Caress to my aunt, her eyes went wide, and she said, “You’re really a writer.”

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

Any and all rejections, from reviewers to publishers, get me down. I eat some chocolate, put on a new coat of toughness, and then try again.

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

The list is impossibly long. Dorothy Koomson, Nana Malone, Kiru Taye, Delaney Diamond, Suzette D. Harrison, Reese Ryan, Farrah Rochon, Empi Baryeh, Christina C. Jones, Brenda Jackson, Pearl Cleage, Elle Wright, Beverly Jenkins, Candace Shaw… Now, look what you’ve started. I’m nowhere close to being done.

That’s an incredible list of authors, most of whom are featured on this website (hint to readers). Whats next on your writing journey?

I’m excited to announce that my book, Path to Passion, is being released in July 2018 (now on preorder at Amazon). In a few months Destiny Awakened will be available in audio, just like the first three books in the Destiny Africa Series.

I’m also researching the possibility of stepping way out of my comfort zone and self-publishing (I’m trembling just thinking about it). And, of course, writing and reading as much as I can would make me a very happy woman.

You can find Nana Prah online at: 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Nana-Prah/e/B00E9ILIPA/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1517833825&sr=8-1

Blog : www.nanaprah.blogspot.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/NanaPrah

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/NanaPrah.Author

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7202262.Nana_Prah

Please check out and pick up a copy of Nana Prah’s latest and upcoming releases right here on Diverse Romance in both the African and African American sections! 

 

 

Cheris Hodges: Sassy & Sexy Black Romance

Cheris Hodges: Sassy & Sexy Black Romance

Black love, for better or worse, is just love, and love isn’t limited to color, ethnicity, or race. Bringing relationships between black heroes and heroines to life in the pages of romance novels to life has been Cheris Hodges’ passion. Like many authors, she got bit by the writing bug and found her calling to write early in life. As is true for many diverse authors, the road to becoming a published author wasn’t easy, but she persisted through a career in independent publishing and full time nine to five gigs to find homes with some of the biggest publishers of diverse romance, like Genesis, Kensington’s Dafina, and Harlequin’s Kimani. Now, she’s built a passionate, committed following that loves her innate capability to weave fun characters, page-turning drama, sizzling sexy romantic scenes and–in her widely acclaimed latest release, Strategic Seduction–even some suspense. Cheris took time out of her busy writing schedule to tell Diverse Romance a little bit about her journey, her challenges, her inspiration–and her new release.

Tell us about your journey to becoming a published author.

I started writing when I was in middle school and I knew that I wanted to write a book one day. So, when I was 16 and had just finished reading Waiting To Exhale, I decided that I was going to send my manuscript to Terry McMillan’s publisher. Wrong move. I got a lovely rejection letter that I still have. Then I started looking at what I needed to do to get published. And in the early 2000s, iUniverse.com came along. Then in 2002, I wrote my first romance novel. My sister, who always reads my stuff before any one, told me that I wrote romance. At the time when she said it, I didn’t believe her. But she introduced me to Brenda Jackson and Rochelle Alers, and I saw black love in books. And I was hooked on reading and writing romance.

Waiting to Exhale sparked the writing journey of so many black women, including mine. Tell us about your latest romance release.

My latest release, Strategic Seduction, which is the last book in the Goings Family and Friends series, is about Alicia Michaels, who’s looking for a new start in Atlanta. What she doesn’t expect to find love in the arms of her client, Richmond Crawford. See, Richmond is newly divorced and her best friend’s brother in law. Alicia doesn’t normally mix business with pleasure, but the sizzling reaction between the two of them is off the charts. However, when and ex comes back into the picture, could this be the final deal breaker?

Sounds wonderfully complicated. What’s love without complication? I don’t know about you, but in every book I’ve written I can usually pick out a couple of lines that speak to the chemistry between my characters. Give us one or two of your favorite lines from Strategic Seduction.

Richmond closed the space between him and Alicia.

“You know, you’re a beautiful woman, and I can’t believe I never noticed that before.”

“Well, at least you’re paying attention now.” She flashed him a smile and walked a step ahead of him. “Make sure you get a good look.”

It sounds like you’re giving readers more of what they love about your characters. Speaking of your readers, you’ve amassed a very devoted following over your career. What’s one of your favorite reviews/comments you’ve ever received about your writing? Who did it come from and how did it impact you?

Nothing is more impactful than when you get an email from a reader telling you how they enjoy your writing. Those emails always seem to come when you’re doubting yourself or your work.

Yes, indeed. A writer’s life is filled with doubts and struggles. What would you say has been one of your biggest struggles as a writer? 

My biggest struggle is trying to get some people to see that love comes in all shapes and colors. Hey, if you can fall in love with a vampire, you can fall in love with a black person.

You’ve said a mouthful. I don’t know a diverse romance author who doesn’t struggle with this challenge.  What would you say has been the high point of your career, so far?

Being a featured author at the Bluffton Book Festival in sunny South Carolina had to be a high point. It was a great event, and people were excited to see me. That always gets me because I still feel like the kid in English class passing around a notebook filled with stories.

Along with the highs that we get from readers and recognition, being author comes with a lot of lows, too. What was a low point in your career?

The lowest point in my career happened last year when I had a PR person from my publishing company tell me that they weren’t promoting my book. I was floored and considered quitting. This is why you need writer friends to talk to. And if it wasn’t for my readers telling my how much they enjoyed my work, I may have pulled the plug. It’s sad when the people who are supposed to help you be successful in the industry actually don’t really give a damn about your work or it selling because you’re not the white—I mean right— color.

Well, you’re still standing and writing and your readers are happy for that. Switching gears, give us the name of a diverse author you’ve read that you would highly recommend to readers.

Beverly Jenkins! I’ve never enjoyed history until I picked up my first Ms. Bev novel and it opened my eyes to the fact that I didn’t learn anything in high school!

Couldn’t agree more. Diverse Romance will be featuring an interview with Ms. Beverly next month! What’s next on your writing journey?

I have three independent projects on the horizon. One is a project close to my heart, based on my nephews. They have been after me for years to write about them, all I can say is be careful what you ask for. LOL!

As a seasoned author, you’ve probably got loads of advice for aspiring authors. What’s your favorite book on the writing craft or your favorite piece of advice to writers?

My favorite book on the craft of writing has to be Bullies, Bastards, and Bitches by Jessica Page Morrell. It’s a book on writing characters that is amazing.

Sounds amazing! That’s all we’ve got for today. Thank you so much for joining Diverse Romance for our launch. Come back anytime!

To find Cheris online, visit:

Website: www.thecherishodges.com

Twitter: @cherishodges

Facebook: facebook.com/authorcherishodges/,

Blog: cherishodges.blogspot.com

Please check out and pick up a copy of Cheris’s latest and upcoming releases right here on Diverse Romance in the African American Contemporary Romance sections!