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! 

Welcome to Diverse Romance

Welcome to Diverse Romance

Welcome to Diverse Romance!

Imagine being able to find romance stories across a wide range of genres, written by authors from the Caribbean to Asia to America, all in one place. DiverseRomance.com is the place I hope will become that destination.

It’s the result of three parts frustration over my inability to keep up with my favorite writers and one part procrastination as I attempt to dig into my next novel. Mostly, it is a passion project resulting from my love of the art of romance writing and the readers who indulge in our meet-cutes, strife, and happily ever afters.

For those who don’t know me, I’m K.L. Brady, an author of 14 books (most in the romance genre) both traditionally and indie published, an avid reader, and super busy single mom. I’m friends with many authors on Facebook. I don’t know about you, but every time one of my author-friends announces a new book on a social network, it gets lost in the black hole that is my feed or in my timeline, rarely to be heard from again. When my schedule slows down, and I finally have a chance to read, I can never find the book again or remember the title.

So frustrating! I wanted to build a website to capture and showcase these books, not just for my author-friends, but for all diverse romance writers.

There are other sites out there, fantastic sites that have been going much longer than mine. This site will not replace those, but hopefully, it will complement them and provide another much-needed place where readers can visit and discover new books–and a place where I can host blog tour stops, giveaways, release announcements, interviews, and more.

How did I select the initial group of authors? Hours of research and frankly finding the books that I like to read. I narrowed my focus to three key parameters:

  • Books written by diverse authors with similarly diverse main characters involved in romantic relationships.
  • The main characters pursuing the relationship are unmarried, at least at the outset.
  • The story ends in a happily ever after (or something like it).
  • The book has at least a 3-star ratings at the time of posting on this site.

I want readers to know what to expect in the books. That they can close their eyes and click on any random book and it’s going to be something they’ll probably like if they love this genre as much as I do. There’s not a book on this site that I don’t want to read if I haven’t read it. I’m sure the selection will expand over time. I envision this as a living site, an eternal work in progress, which will continuously evolve as I discover new authors and as readers and authors recommend new writers, content, and genres.

My greatest hope is that this site will help at least one reader step out of a comfort zone to explore different cultures, ideas, romance genres, and authors–and read love in all of its shades and colors.

Enjoy your visit and contact me if you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions at Karla (at) diverse-books (dot) com.