Vash Karuppa: Romance with a South Indian Flair

Vash Karuppa: Romance with a South Indian Flair

Which comes first–your voice or your niche? Author Vash Karuppa found both through a writing hobby that became a passion. Her debut romance, Destiny for Love Arranged, delivers an engaging romance that delves into the bonds of family, friendship, and South African Indian culture. Please join us for a talk with Vash as she details her journey to becoming a published author and find out what’s next.

Tell us about your journey to become a published author.  

It has been an incredible journey thus far. I started writing my novel with no intention of publishing it. Writing is a hobby and at first it was simply a way of me enjoying putting my plot onto paper. Once complete, a few friends read the draft and motivated me to consider publishing it. That started my journey into the “real” world of an author. I was blessed indeed because when I made the decision to go ahead with [publishing], I had a tremendous amount of support from the writing fraternity. As a debut author, it has been phenomenal. 

For many years, I have read articles around the call for diverse romance novels that incorporate multi-cultural aspects into a traditional romance plot. In addition, I’m a hopeless romantic myself and always had a plot in my head around a story that integrates family and friendship bonds (which I have been blessed to have throughout my life) together with a typical romance story. When I eventually decided to put pen to paper, it all just naturally came together, giving birth to Destiny for Love Arranged. Finally, I do believe there aren’t too many novels written which share intricacies of the South Indian culture and I was determined to do this. Looking at the feedback received thus far from readers, it was well received.         

Whats parked the idea for this romance series?

Destiny For Love Arranged is a contemporary, gripping and angsty, second chance Indian romance that reveals the love of family and friendship bonds during trying times. All protagonists are of South African Indian origin.

The story revolves around Aariyan Ranjan, a highly successful CEO of a Hotel Empire and Varini Iyengar, an Oncologist, who are forced into a temporary marriage of convenience to help them resolve personal dilemmas. While Aariyan is determined to treat their marriage as he would any other business deal, love rarely listens to logic, and what follows is anything but business. On the other hand, Varini soon finds herself gravitating toward and rejoicing in the love she thought lost forever with a hidden hope that their marriage of convenience will end in a union of everlasting love. The story is embedded with cultural anecdotes familiar to any family of Indian origin. It takes their family, friends and a life-threatening situation to show them the love they lost is worth fighting for. 

In short, this is a story about family, friendship, and starting over, as Aariyan and Varini embark on a journey toward a second chance at love. You will get to share in their moments as they discover that vulnerability can actually be their strength and the most perplexing problems can be overcome with the support and resourcefulness of a loving family and faithful friends.

This is Book 1 of a trilogy.

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

A gripping, angsty, emotional, fun-filled and diverse book.

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

I will understand if you don’t want to be a part of my life any longer, but I need you to know, for as long as I live, you will always have my heart. I want and need you more than I do my next breath, but I will let you go if you want to be free of a life with me.

Tell us about your writings pace and your daily routine.

Writing Space – A quiet space in my little apartment directly next to a window where I can have the warmth of the sun and sounds of chirping birds to keep me company while writing.

Daily routine – Have a day job so get to writing a night for at least 2 hours in the week and whatever time I can hijack on the weekend. ”      

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?

“No spoilers from me… This book was just wow for so many reasons… Mostly I just want to say thank you to Vash Karuppa for the journey and that you made it possible for me to understand and enjoy the Indian culture… The characters in this book and the emotions wow… So Real… And then the country… South-Africa! Can’t wait for more great books from this Author and for the journey to continue… I enjoyed it so much…”

It is a review by a member of my Reader Network. It had an immensely positive impact owing to the reiteration that my intention to showcase my culture was well received. In addition, I was pleased to know that the emotions I so desperately wanted readers to feel was indeed achieved. ”      

What’s your biggest struggle as a writer? 

Biggest struggle – not enough time to write. Trying my best to manage a day job, family and writing.    

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

That my debut novel has received an 4.8 average rating in less than three week since it went live. In addition, the fact that so many readers are recommending the novel to friends and family.   

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

Having to cut down on the story line due to publisher maximum novel length requirements. I handled it by taking what parts I had to remove and added them to Book 2 🙂       

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

Brenda Jackson           

What’s next on your writing journey?

Destiny for love arranged is a trilogy so I am busy with Book 2 & 3 currently.

What’s your favorite piece of advice to writers?

Keep on going!            

My family, friends and people I encounter everyday are the greatest inspiration for my novels. 

If your latest book had a soundtrack, what would be the first three songs? 

Everything I do, I do it for you (Bryan Adams), We are Family (Sister Sledge) and I’ll be there for you (The Rembrandts)

To learn more about Vash, visit her online at: 

WEBSITE: 

https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/bookjourneyswithvash.wordpress.com/4  — (In construction – will be live by 24th April 2019 at the latest)

FB PAGE:              https://www.facebook.com/bookjourneyswithvash

TWITTER PAGE:  https://twitter.com/VashKaruppa

INSTA PAGE:        https://www.instagram.com/vashkaruppa/

AMAZON US 

AMAZON UK 

GOODREADS

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/44655221-destiny-for-love-arranged?ac=1&from_search=true

Lynn Turner: From STEM to Romance

Lynn Turner: From STEM to Romance

Writing is a calling. No matter how circuitous the route you take, life will always find a way to bring you back to it. This is the case with Lynn Turner, author of ballet romance Pas De Deux: A Dance for Two. Her journey took her from retelling Huckleberry Finn’s story in her teens to finding her voice in the beauty and power of dance. Please welcome Author Lynn Turner and enjoy this short trip into a life-long creative journey.

So many authors take circuitous routes to the art. Tell us about your journey to become a published author.  

I’ve *always* wanted to be a writer, even before I knew that “author” and “writer” were synonyms! When I was 12, I totally pirated Huckleberry Finn’s story and made it my own, complete with a free-spirited tomboy heroine named “Sketch” who runs away from home and takes a paddle boat downriver with her dog and her best friend (not her dog, lol). The entire story spans about four days, but filled every page of a yellow legal pad (front AND back, thank you very much) and I was SO proud! 

The desire to create my own stories persisted through obtaining my STEM degree, which I almost quit Junior year to switch my major to English/ Communications. My adviser convinced me I could do anything with a STEM degree, including write, so I persisted. Fast-forward to 2015, I timidly posted my very first fan fiction one-shot, which became a 130,000-word full-length story because of the amazing readers who encouraged me to keep going. I published my first contemporary romance in 2017 and I’m working on my third.        

Congratulations on your progress. So, what sparked the idea for this romance series?

I saw Misty Copeland’s documentary, A Ballerina’s Tale, on Netflix in 2016. I’d known who she was far before that, but she’s just so…so—so beautiful, so talented, so eloquent and humble and freaking sexy—that she almost seemed unreal. On top of that, I don’t have any dance experience, so I felt quite intimidated by the subject matter, and afraid of how readers with knowledge of that world would react if I got it wrong. But when I watched that documentary, I saw the sheer scope of what Misty overcame to make it, and I HAD to write a black ballerina. 

For context, as a black ballerina, there are already challenges enough inherent in the world you’re trying to exist in. It’s overwhelmingly white, overwhelmingly waif-like, with even your feet needing to look a certain way—a certain shape, width, length—before you ever rise en pointe for the first time. If a girl’s got better ankles than you, hang it up, sister. It’s a very homologous world, so your very existence singles you out. The pressure to be exceptional is there for every ballerina, but it’s magnified when you’re “other.” Misty had that to contend with, but also poverty, lack of access, and people who seemed eager for her to fail. 

I wanted to write a story with a heroine as resilient as Misty, who had to overcome such intense beauty standards, as well as personal life challenges, but ended up stronger for it. On a lighter note, The Cutting Edge is one of my favorite movies of all time and the sparring/ sexual chemistry between those characters is everything. I wanted to balance the more poignant/ serious themes with some great chemistry and comedic moments.     

It sounds amazing–a perfect mix. Give the Diverse Romance audience five words that best describe this book. What message do you hope they get?

Passionate. Hopeful. Resilient. Inspiring. Art.

I hope readers take away the powerful truth that our unique experiences (life, love, sadness, failure, triumph, hurt, anger, hope) make us extraordinary; that we each bring something invaluable to the table, and there’s room at that table for all of us.”

Every writer crafts a line that sticks in his or her mind. Give us one or two of your favorite lines from Pas De Deux.

 “She was like an origami swan, coming apart fold-by-fold to reveal the steps that made her.”  

“We were never meant to be perfect, our pieces wouldn’t fit together that way.”

Great lines only make it to the page when we put butt in seats and fingers to the keyboard. Tell us about your writing space and your daily routine.

HAHAHAHAHA!!! ::makes dolphin sounds:: a) I WISH I were so organized! I literally write wherever, whenever I can, b) I’ve accepted that my life is BANANAS (working full time, kids, etcetera) so, some days I’ll write 500 words, and some days I’ll write 4,000, and that’s totally okay so long as I KEEP GOING, and c) I plot everything on Pinterest (the visual stimulates my imagination).

Let’s shift gears. Tell us–what is one of your favorite comments you’ve received about your writing? Who did it come from and how did it impact you?

It’s always lovely to receive compliments about how lyrical/poetic my prose is, or how hot The Sex is, or how smoothly the pacing flows…but my favorite comment to date came to me in an email from a reader in Singapore. She said:

“I’m a reader from Singapore and have been dancing for about 3/4 of my life, most of that in ballet. I’m amazed at your level of attention to detail – I love the way you describe dance, movement, and the mentality required to succeed in ballet. I also was shocked to hear you’re not a dancer yourself – your passion and knowledge is so impressive, it was like a glimpse into the mind of someone who has lived that life.”

Reading that blew me away! For one, writing about music and movement is HARD. It’s so challenging to put that kind of passion and drive into words that don’t fall flat, or that may not resonate with people who’ve never worn pointe shoes. That a dancer said that about my writing proved to me that my research into this fascinating-but-extremely-intimidating art form was worth it. That my gut was right: I HAD to write this story. It just felt…good.

On the other side the praise is the critiques. Those we have to fight through to keep going. What was your worst? And how did you handle it?

I’ve made it my business not to know what my worst critique is, because I’ve learned not to check reviews unless I’m tagged, lol. How’d I learn this gem of wisdom? Well, I checked, of course…and a reader had DNFed the story citing “purple prose.” Initially, it hurt my feelings, because I put my heart and soul into the story and I’m sooo in love with it. But then I realized, so what? One person’s poetry is another’s purple prose. There are plenty of stories out there I couldn’t connect with that others have fallen in love with. I’ve learned to accept CONSTRUCTIVE critique, say “thank you” for compliments, and let anything else go. Once a work is out there, in some ways it’s not mine anymore. It’s for other people to consume however they choose. In other words:

::insert Kermit sipping tea meme here::

That’s none of my business. Lol!

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

Being reviewed in The New York Times. Hands-down.

That’s an incredible high point. What was the low point of your career? And how did you handle it?

Rejections. Soooooo many rejections. I indie-published my gorgeous black ballerina, and worked with a team of close friends to come up with a marketing strategy which HIGHLIGHTED, rather than downplayed her “otherness.” The result was overwhelming support for my unique little story, and for my unapologetically black, temperamental, gifted and sexy ballerina. I came away from this experience with a sense that I’ve found my people. I can’t wait to continue indie publishing!

Now it’s time to pay it forward. Give us the name of a diverse author you’ve read that you would highly recommend to readers.

Kennedy Ryan. Kennedy. Ryan. Kennedy freaking Ryan! Lol!!!

What’s next on your writing journey?

Romantic Comedy! I’m working on my third book, Love At Cruise, featuring a WOC commercial pilot and a hunky teddy bear of a British hero. A meet cute gone wrong evolves into love. 

My fourth book will be an enemies-to-lovers story featuring an American heroine of Chinese ancestry, and my fifth book will be a love story between a black American heroine and Ghanaian immigrant hero. I’m keeping busy!

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

Stephen King’s “On Writing” has some amazing tips! He’s really helped me pare down my writing so it’s descriptive without feeling like a chore to read. My absolute favorite piece of advice isn’t about technique at all, it’s simply, “If there’s a book you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” -Toni Morrison            

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

I’m not always the most confident person in the world, and anxiety is REAL. My readers are the kindest, most hilarious and thoughtful people in the world. It makes me smile every time they slide in my DMs like, Hey Lynn! Just checking on ya! How’s it going? 

It. Means. Everything.

Love you guys!

If your latest book had a soundtrack, what would be the first three songs? 

Funny enough, it’s got one! Kind of? I like to make playlists for each story, so Pas De Deux has its own playlist on Spotify. The first three songs on it are “The Greatest” by Sia (ft. Kendrick Lamar), “The Middle” by Zed and Maren Morris, and “Help Me Out” by Maroon 5 and Julia Michaels.

To learn more about Lynn, visit her online at: 

Twitter: @Lynn_Writes

Instagram: @lynn_writes

https://www.facebook.com/LynnTurnerAuthor

https://www.pinterest.com/AuthorLynnTurner

Spotify: https://goo.gl/dke1pi

Check out Lynn’s current and upcoming romance releases in the Contemporarysection of this site. 

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

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.

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