Sunday, November 01, 2020

A BATTLEGROUND STATE


The state of North Carolina has become a coveted battleground state for the 2020 Presidential election. Depending how the voting numbers inevitably fall could make or break either one of the candidates. This election will also show the world what North Carolina is made of; what we value, and what North Carolinians would like to see for themselves and their bretheren moving forward. Good or bad, this election will say much about the people who live here.

I have deep roots in North Carolina. My father was born and raised here. It was my grandparent’s home. My ancestors were enslaved in this state. The racial climate was why my father fled North Carolina. He’d been fourteen the first time he was picked up and held by Durham police. He’d been walking home from the local golf club where he had worked a summer job caddying for the club’s wealthy, white members. He’d made two dollars that day and was excited to take his earnings home to his mother. It brought him joy to feel like he could contribute to the home and help his family.

For three days he sat in a jail cell, no one knowing where he was. When they found him, they were never told why he was being held. One of the officers stole his two dollars, telling him he’d have no use for it where he was going. He was eventually released, never charged, and no one apologized for their actions. He was admonished to remember his place and he was called the N-word as if it were his name. It would not be the last time the local authorities harassed him for no reason. He learned early that being a black male in the South could easily be a detriment to his health.

A year later, at the age of fifteen, he enlisted in the US Army. He lied about his age and his mother signed the papers for him to go. Both he and my grandmother believed he would be safer with Uncle Sam. Military service took him to Germany where he learned a language and a trade. When he returned to the states, he headed north, landing in Connecticut where he met and married my mother. She had been a transplant from South Carolina herself and they bonded over their southern roots.

My father left North Carolina in his rearview mirror, returning only for funerals, the occasional wedding, and holidays to visit with elderly relatives who had stayed. Despite his misgivings about North Carolina, the decision to return after retirement was an easy one. He was a self-made man, financially solvent, with adult children. He was able to pay cash for his expansive home and has been able to enjoy the fruits of his labors.

When I announced my decision to move to North Carolina my father wasn’t overly encouraging. I had a young son and he worried for us in a way that was disconcerting. To some degree I’d lived a sheltered life. Raised in a middle class, predominately white community, I had no true sense of the racism my daddy had endured as a child. What I had faced had been whole-heartedly different, not as overt or as caustic. No one had dared called me the N-word to my face. I didn’t know how to prepare for what I might be walking into.

My first home was in a wonderful neighborhood out in the country. It was a small town that I instantly loved, affording us a sense of community where a little boy could run and play and have no fear. I could not have been happier. I’d rented my home blind, a family friend doing the walk through with the landlord and taking photographs for me to see. I still remember the landlord’s surprise when he discovered I was a black woman married to man who was perceived to be white. But we came with cash and green has always been bigger than black or white has ever been. He did, however, forewarn us to be mindful of our neighbor, saying he was racist and didn’t take kindly to interracial relationships.

Duly frightened, I was mindful to make sure Son-shine stayed clear of that side of the road and I didn’t go out of my way to be a nice neighbor. A dog named Jaxx changed that. He was a massive Rottweiler who loved to explore with his boy. The two would disappear into the woods behind our property for hours on end. Then one day, Jaxx took off next door to explore. Son-shine chased after him and I chased after them both. I apologized profusely as the dog and his boy both climbed the front porch to sit beside the homeowners. Minutes later, the dog was chewing on a bone, Son-shine had a plate of fresh baked cookies and we had made new friends. It would be many months later when I would share with them what had been said, kicking myself for believing what I hadn’t bothered to learn for myself.

North Carolina became home and I have been glad for it. I’ve grown here. I’ve watched my son become a man here. I left a toxic relationship behind, and I found love here. North Carolina has been more good than it has been bad. But never before have I seen the wealth of racism here that has reared its head over the last four years. Neighbors have turned on neighbors, strangers are ugly to each other, and more times than not race is centered around the conflicts. I fear for my black son, my black husband, and I understand that this fear is what moved my grandmother to think it safer to send her fifteen year old son to the military during a time of war than keep him home in a state that did not value his black life.

I worry that North Carolina will not rise above the fray. I fear the hatred that is suddenly running amuck will be validated if the state remains polarized. I don’t trust that  the voices of reason have been heard over the chatter of insanity that’s become so prevalent. I’m scared that this state will cease to be home to many of us who have loved it here. But mostly, I worry that North Carolina will soon be a battleground for far more than this election.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

LOUISE WILLIAMS THOMAS

 


My best friend in the whole wide world buried her beloved mother today. I thought about my dear friend this morning, breathing as I would have admonished her to do had I been there. Praying as I would have prayed with her if I could have been by her side. But I wasn’t there. Unable to make the trip for too many reasons to count. Feeling lost as I imagined the hurt that she was dealing with. Feeling useless as I went through a seemingly normal routine just to get through the day. It felt foreign to me. My friend is the sister of my heart and in all of our many years together there has never been a time when we were not there in body and spirit to support each other through a hard time. Finding solace and comfort in a friendship that has endured and nurtured us when we needed it most. I had been there when her father passed, never leaving her side until well after he was laid to rest. My friend was with me when I lost my son, coming on the first flight when I called to tell her he was gone. Not being physically there to support her was a knife to my heart like I had not felt in a very long time. 

I have fond memories of her mother, the woman who many times mothered me alongside her own daughter. Memories of time spent in her home when I went there for play dates as a child and when I just showed up at her door as a teen. Memories of our parents together and a lifelong friendship that nurtured and supported us. Memories of her admonishments for us to do and be better because she was watching, always having a maternal eye on our doings. Memories of our road trips to Seton Hall University to visit my bestie when she was away at school and had taken up residence in New Jersey. Memories of conversations that challenged my beliefs and sometimes gave me pause. I’ve got good memories!

When life took a turn and it looked like my future was nose-diving South, it was her mother who sought me out, sitting down with me to make sure I was well. When I cried, she patted my hand and doled out maternal advice that I still follow to this day. When I began to write, she encouraged me, supporting my endeavors although she was very vocal about preferring my literary work over my romance. It was only a few short years ago that she indulged in those “sexy” stories, laughing heartily when we teased her about it.

She was regal in stature and exemplified what a well-lived life should look like. She traveled, was well-read and passionate about those things that were important to her. Most particularly her daughter. She was the epitome of grace, with a gentle spirit and a magnanimous heart. She could also be stern, was highly disciplined, and not a woman you wanted to cross.

I was not there to say goodbye. Not there to hold my friend’s hand as she laid her mother to rest. But I prayed. And I held tight to the many memories we shared.

My sincerest condolences to the Thomas family. Sending light and love to my sister, Angela Thomas Graves and my brother, Gregory Graves.

Louise Williams Thomas, you will be missed!

 

 

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

DAVID BROOKS, JR.

Roxboro, NC is one of those sleepy communities that is reminiscent of another era. Back in the day I’m sure it was considered a one-horse town and despite the growth, it is still a community where time feels as if it is standing still.

Little happens in Roxboro and the residents are happy to keep it that way. There was little fanfare when a convoy organized by the Klu Klux Klan paraded through town in 2016 to celebrate President-Elect Donald Trump's win. Only a few of the town’s citizens were dismayed by their presence. Local police blocked several intersections along US Highway 501 as they waved their Confederate flags, moving through and exiting the city. Sadly, racism in Roxboro is one of those things that time has held onto tightly.

Law enforcement and local politicians have become proficient at keeping attention off the small community. But anyone who lives there, works there, or who has contact with the town knows that racism is as prevalent now as it was some fifty years ago. It’s usually not overt racism, just that old-fashioned, very Southern, know-your-place-and-stay-in-it kind of racism. Racism that is deeply ingrained, resistant to change, indignant, stagnant, and perpetuated by the descendants of the confederacy. The kind of racism where law enforcement rule with a heavy hand and people of color are sometimes criminalized for simply breathing. That kind of racism with its own set of judicial rules, one set of laws for whites and another set for blacks, the playbook written decades ago on the backs of our enslaved ancestors and sanctioned daily in the Person County courthouse.

Most recently, 45-year old David Brooks, Jr. was a victim of that heavy-handed rule. As it was widely reported, on July 24, 2020, David was fatally shot by a Person county police officer who responded to a 911 call reporting a person with a gun walking on Old Durham Road with a mask on. The officer claimed after issuing an order for him to put the weapon down, that David pointed the gun at him instead, and he was forced to fire. Roxboro Police allege that they found a loaded, sawed-off shotgun at the scene and Police Chief David Hess said that weapon is considered a “weapon of mass destruction” and is not legal in North Carolina.

And here is where fact and fiction diverge, the media justifying David’s death and Roxboro’s law enforcement community and local politicians working diligently to divert attention far from them. David was known to many in the community. He was also known to the local police. In fact, it has been reported that this was not the first time David had an encounter with the same officer who killed him. Allegedly, said officer was reported to have stopped David just a week or so earlier. In that instance, the same gun David carried was deemed legal, returned to him, and David was sent on his way. If this is true, why was this stop necessary or different?

North Carolina is an open carry state. It is not unusual to see white, male residents of Roxboro with their weapons holstered or being carried. Rifles lay in the beds of pickup trucks and for those male residents it would seem to be a rite of passage that only they are allowed. No one ever blinks an eye. Recently, four white males carrying AR15’s stood guard over the granite statue of a Confederate soldier that stands near the intersection of Main Street and Court Street on the courthouse square in downtown Roxboro. Allegedly, calls to local law enforcement were said to have been ignored, no one coming to check the legality of their weapons. They were, after all, protecting Roxboro’s confederate legacy.

They claim David’s gun was illegal. There are many who are challenging that. It is said that David was carrying a pistol grip shotgun with a shoulder strap. David knew the law. David’s father, who once ran for local sheriff, knew the law. David’s family, friends, and the local Roxboro community knew the law. If David was carrying the gun he was known to regularly carry, then his gun was very much legal.

David wore a mask to shop at the local Dollar General Store. Store employees knew David. It was not his first visit to the store. They have said he was always respectful and never a problem. He walked there and was walking home. He did that often. With his gun. David wore a mask because we are all wearing masks to stores to shop now. David wearing a mask was pragmatic during these times of Covid-19. His mask was not illegal.

Local television stations who have aired the dash cam video of David’s shooting admit to editing it to be sensitive to David’s family and their viewers. Edited video typically supports the narrative one would like it to support. Edited video sometimes leaves out valuable facts, most especially when a black man has been shot and killed by a white police officer and the powers in charge want to control the narrative.

Those who have seen the full video question the officer’s account of what happened. David was asked to put the weapon down and some feel he was reaching for the shoulder strap to do just that when he was shot once in the chest. Others don’t dispute that David lifted the barrel of his weapon, pointing it toward the officer as he reached for the shoulder strap. Officials claim the encounter lasted six minutes. The video would seem to show that David was shot a mere six seconds after the officer exited his car and issued the command. Some argue that he fired as David was trying to comply. Others claim David’s actions was malicious, his intentions to do the officer harm.

The officer is heard on audio tape explaining his action, although there was radio silence for almost two minutes as he was dispatched to the scene. What was said over the radio and why were those comments edited out? He said he drove past, and David tried to hide his gun. The video shows David did no such thing. The officer acknowledged exiting his vehicle with his shotgun. Most officers exit with their service pistols. Why a shotgun? For someone known to him? And why a gun at all when the officer in question ALLEGEDLY has a pending domestic violence case against him and should not have been in possession of a weapon at all? That takes us back to the Roxboro rulebook and who must follow it and who doesn’t. But I digress because this isn’t about the officer’s prior failings or his history. Not yet. Nor should David’s prior actions be weaponized against him to support the argument that he deserved to be shot. But it will be if it’s necessary to help justify the police officer’s actions. But one might argue that if prior history warranted David losing his life, then prior history might point to the police officer’s motives for pulling the trigger before any efforts to deescalate the situation were made.

Officials claim David was immediately rendered medical support. That could also be disputed. Secondary officers arrive within minutes of the shooting. Two look down at his dying body as the officer who shot him asks, “Bro, you good?” David is admonished to stop moving a few times. David is frisked for additional weapons as one leg begins to shake violently. The officer who pulled the trigger is heard calling David by his name more than once, so David was clearly no stranger to him. Medical help is rendered when EMS arrives minutes after that.

Battle lines have already been drawn. Arguments abound supporting the officer who was “just doing his job”. Fingers are being pointed at David for not complying with police orders. Everyone has an opinion and those opinions are split down color lines. The police are viewed as saviors and their actions should not be questioned and a black man standing against the status quo was deemed dangerous.

Had David been white would he have even been stopped? Most in Roxboro would say no because they’ve seen how white males holding AR15’s are dealt with. Would there have been more effort made to deescalate the situation? Would the officer who pulled the trigger have utilized that training the Police Chief claims his officers have all undergone for situations just like this one? Why was that training not in play when this cop pulled up on David? If he forgot his training in those six seconds should he even be on the police force? The family has questions. Outsiders have questions. The community should be asking questions instead of closing one eye to every ounce of racist behavior in their fair town. But I digress yet again...

David knew his rights and he was well within them to carry his weapon out in the open in Roxboro, North Carolina. He also knew that not playing by the rules and knowing his place put him at odds with Roxboro’s finest. David believed he was being watched by local police. He believed they intended to do him harm. Some attributed that to David’s mental health. But hindsight shows David knew more than many gave him credit for.

David’s murder is barely a footnote now in Roxboro’s history. Most know David will be blamed for his own death and the officer involved will go back to policing the community like nothing happened. Although officials say they continue to investigate and the shooting is still under review, media attention has moved on to yet another shooting. The most recent in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Another black man gunned down, on camera, by a law enforcement officer. Another spotlight on shootings that happen with regularity with little to no consequences for the police officers involved.

Roxboro Police have been sworn to protect and serve. Clearly, they failed to protect and serve David Brooks, Jr. My condolences to his family and friends.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

#NotThisTime


We are just days from presidential candidate Joe Biden announcing his choice for Vice President. He has said he will ask a woman to share the Democratic ticket with him. Some are hoping she will be a black woman. Others just want to see him in office if it means the current White House resident is promptly escorted off the premises. They don’t much care who he drags with him. Like many, I want to trust that Joe Biden and whomever he selects will make a difference in a world that is going straight to hell, sinking in a mire of quicksand faster than any of us could ever begin to imagine. Because things are bad.

The idea of a female on the ticket isn’t new. But this time it will be different. No one can argue that the women under consideration aren’t capable of doing the job. Not only are they qualified, but they can run circles around most of the men who have ever vied for the position. They are already out here fighting for better. Many have survived a storm or two. I imagine what’s coming will just be another walk through a very dark park and they will have to rise above the fray no matter what gets thrown at them.

It’s what will be thrown at them that most concerns me. Women have to take a lot of shit from men who are threatened by their presence. The horror stories are abundant, more women than not having to endure abuse that runs the gamut from verbal and emotional, to physical and back again. Sadly, sometimes it’s other women who help shovel all that crap, fueling the flames with jealousy and ignorance. I have a college-educated associate who would rather not vote at all than vote for a woman. She still subscribes to the belief that women should be barefoot and pregnant in the home and only men can lead. There are times when we can be our own worst enemy.

What I know is that any female candidate will likely be attacked on her abilities simply because she is a woman. A man with a lesser resume would be considered gold. A black woman will have the added benefit of being attacked for breathing, everything about her called into question again and again. There will be the assumption that she cannot be educated enough, or qualified enough, or just enough period. Because, after all, she is black. I don’t have to imagine the comments and memes that will follow her. I remember what was done to Michelle Obama. How she had to go high when their low was particularly vicious.

We’ll, I’m not here for it. Nor should you be. No matter who Uncle Joe picks, we will have to pull ourselves together and stand against the naysayers. We need to keep the focus on the candidate’s qualifications and the changes she and Joe will be able to affect. What damage rained down against us in the last four years will they be able to repair? And we’ll need to keep the wolves at bay. When the attacks come, we need to unify and shut them down before they can gain footing. We will need to demonstrate the ideals of sisterhood in an unprecedented way.

Recently women have been posting black and white beauty shots on Instagram tagged #ChallengeAccepted. It was intended to be a display of female empowerment. Some have questioned its purpose, and its impact, as we rally through the Covid-19 pandemic. I challenge these same women to be front and center to support the female candidate when she is besieged with ill will and condemnation. Rally around her to shut down the harassment and character assassinations that will have no validity and will only serve to be a distraction from the real issues. Use the hashtag #NotThisTime. Put your activism behind real support of another woman. Support that requires you to actually push back and be about the walk, not just the talk. No pretty pictures required. Just a staunch determination to ensure that the woman Joe throws into the flames will rise like the Phoenix. I dare you to accept that challenge.


Sunday, July 26, 2020

HE'S NOT NICE

People look at me funny when I tell them my house is haunted. But it is. We have haints. I used to think it was a single spirit. Definitely female and partial to my guy. She was not happy when I moved into his home, but we’ve learned to respect each other’s space. I leave her alone and she knows not to bother me. But it took a minute to come to a mutual understanding that I wasn’t going anywhere, and she couldn’t run me away with her antics.

She roams the house late at night. You can sometimes hear her walking across the floor or down the stairs. She has occasionally slammed a door to get someone’s attention. In the wee hours of the morning when I’m focused on my writing, I sometimes sense she is behind me, just the faintest gust of air or breath blowing across my ear or neck. She’s become my sounding board and I sometimes talk to her as I plot.

Recently though I’ve gotten the impression that she is not alone. It started with the chair that never stays pushed in at the table. It was constantly moving and until it happened when I was home alone, I blamed the girls, or the big guy.

Dishes randomly falling into the kitchen sink was my second clue. Drinking glasses sliding off the counter while we sat in another room, the glass shattering against the stainless steel was disconcerting. She used to do that, too. Once could be dismissed as a fluke. Multiple times raises an eyebrow or two.

Lately, personal items disappear and reappear, leaving us to question if we might be losing our collective minds. I’m anal about there being a place for all things and all things being in their place. Keys get dropped into the key basket at the front door. When the basket is empty and we turn the house upside down searching for them, only to discover them in that same basket minutes later, I know I’m not crazy. Toys are moved. Phones have disappeared off tabletops. Earrings get rearranged in my jewelry chest. I no longer scratch my head at the absurdity. Our new occupant has jokes but they aren’t funny. 

My pretty princess loves her newly decorated room. She’s been partial to the tent with the sparkly lights which has become her private sanctuary. She will sit inside for hours with dozens of her stuffed friends. Talking to someone or something that no one else can see.

"He’s not very nice," she said once. When I ask who, she shrugs and dismisses the conversation. Almost as if someone behind me has raised a finger to shush her. Recently, she opened the front door to peer outside and then screamed at the top of her lungs. I watched the door slam shut as she raced toward me her arms outstretched. She did not close that door. I’m almost certain of it. Almost. But if she didn’t slam that door, who did?

"What’s wrong?" I asked.

"I saw him," she answered. "For real, MeeMi. I saw him and he was trying to get back in, but she wouldn’t let him inside."

"That’s some imagination," our favorite guy laughs nervously.

I nod as the princess and I exchange a look, understanding sweeping between us. Because I have seen him, too. And no, he’s not nice.

 


Monday, May 25, 2020

AUTHOR ROOMS Welcomes SHARON C. COOPER




I’m so excited to welcome my author-sister-friend Sharon C. Cooper to Author Rooms! Sharon is an award-winning, bestselling author who loves anything that involves romance with a happily-ever-after, whether in books, movies, or real life. Sharon writes contemporary romance, as well as romantic suspense and enjoys rainy days, carpet picnics, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. She's been nominated for numerous awards and is the recipient of Emma Awards for Author of the Year 2019, Favorite Hero 2019, Romantic Suspense of the Year 2015, Interracial Romance of the Year 2015, and BRAB Award

One of my favorite people, I appreciate Sharon taking time to sit down with me. So let's get right to it! Sharon, welcome!

So, tell me, how has writing changed your life?

What a great question! That’s something I haven’t thought about, until now. I think the most noticeable way that writing has changed my life is that I’m able to work from home full time – which I like. For as long as I can remember, I did part-time work from home (virtual assistant and freelance writer), but this is the first time I’ve been able to make a decent living working from home. Now, if you ask my husband this question about me, he’d probably say my active imagination is to the extreme. Lol! We were walking through a parking lot recently and passed a vehicle where the trunk was low to the ground. The first words out of my mouth were, “God, I hope there’s not a dead body in that car.” That was honestly my first thought. My husband was like. “Of all the things you could’ve come up with that could be weighing down that trunk, you came up with a dead body?” He ticked off other possibilities like – bricks, heavy boxes, tools, but not me…I imagined it contained a dead body. Then I started thinking of ways to work the idea into one of my romantic suspense novels. What can I say? *shoulder shrug* I’m extra like that.

Do you Google yourself?

I have googled myself. Not often, though. Usually it’s after I receive notice that someone else has googled me. Sometimes it’s interesting (or not) to see where the search takes me.

Have you ever had a scene edited out of a book that you wished you had kept?

Oh yeah! Wait…scenes that I wished I had kept? Actually, I can’t say that I’ve cut any that I wished I had kept. BUT I have had to cut some (that I LOVED) that just didn’t fit the story. Cutting those types of scenes can be painful. I’ll remove them from that particular story, but I usually save them in hopes of using them in a different project.

Is there one line or phrase that seems to always sneak into all your books?

LOL! Unfortunately, there are a few! My critique partners or editor are usually the ones who catch them before a story is published, but every now and then one slips through. Such as: The hairs on the back of his neck stood at attention. The sentence might not include those exact words every time, but it’s usually always something similar.

If you weren't writing what else would you love to see yourself doing?

Hmm…that’s a good question! On any given day, I probably would have a different answer, but today, I’d say painting. Not house painting, but abstract (picture) painting. That’s what I do in my spare time. This is my latest painting (during “safe at home”). I’ve been displaying some of my artwork around the house. My son (who’s an adult and doesn’t live with us) mentioned a few years ago that our place looked like an art gallery. Lol! NOTE: He was exaggerating…but one day, it really will!

What is it about your writing space that motivates your writing?

My office is set up to be inspiring and peaceful. It’s extremely comfortable and usually neat. I’m a little OCD and don’t function well with clutter. The space includes a vision board (created annually), calendar for book releases (which currently shows that I’m behind), an area displaying some of my writing awards, and of course book shelves. I even have a sofa. I occasionally stretch out on it to work out a scene in my head that’s not coming together. And no, I usually don’t fall asleep during those moments. Lol. My favorite part of the office, though, is my wall of book covers. It’s the wall directly across from my desk. Whenever I look up from my computer monitor, I see huge framed photos (16 x 20) of a few of my book covers. They remind me of my writing accomplishments, as well as encourage me not to give up on a WIP (work in progress).

Tell us something about yourself that your readers don't know. Spill some tea!

Some of my readers probably don’t know that I worked construction for ten years. Seems like a lifetime ago, but it’s true. I’m a sheet metal worker by trade (installing HVAC units, working on roofs, installing gutters, welding, etc.). Some of my experience in construction has been showcased in my Jenkins Family series. It’s a series where some of the women in a family oversee the family’s construction company. For more on that series, your readers can visit my website: https://sharoncooper.net/jenkins-family-series


In January, Sharon released BETRAYED, the latest book in her Atlanta’s Finest Series. Each book in the series has been written to read as a standalone and readers often use the words HOT and STEAMY to describe a Sharon C. Cooper story.

When secrets turn into lies…

Former DEA agent Angelo Gonz├ílez’s final undercover operation exploded in a betrayal he’ll never forget or forgive. He’s moved on. As one of Atlanta’s Finest, providing personal security for the rich and famous, Angelo is living his best life—until he has to play fake boyfriend to one of their clients. Not just any client. A client who stirs something so sensually intense inside him, he’s not sure he can fake anything.

Singing sensation Zenobia Westfield’s troubled past and poor judgment, especially with men, nearly destroyed her life. Music saved her, but now her safety is in jeopardy, forcing her to seek personal security. Angelo is more than she expected. Dangerously sexy. Fearless. Attentive. The attraction sizzling between them is impossible to ignore, but her track record with men has her treading lightly.

When the threat against Zenobia escalates, Angelo will stop at nothing to protect her. But lies and treachery come to the forefront. Will another betrayal destroy their newfound love? Or will Angelo realize in time that Zenobia is a woman worth fighting for?


And, coming this summer is HUNTED, the next book in the series. I'm a huge fan of Sharon's work and like all of her fans, I’m excited! If either book is your first Sharon C. Cooper read, you won’t be disappointed!

She’s everything he never knew he wanted…

Former CIA spy Myles Carrington experienced enough action in his clandestine days. The last thing he needs in his life right now is trouble, but that’s what he gets when salon owner Geneva Ramsey crosses his path. She’s combative, fierce and the sexiest woman he’s ever met, but he’s not looking for anything serious. He promises himself only one night with her and nothing more.

Geneva kissed him on a dare. A dare that altered her carefree life, and she’s conflicted. Myles is an enigma, a puzzle she can’t piece together. Yet, she’s addicted to him—which is just crazy. She never gets serious with any guy, but after one night with Myles no other man will do. Now, she just needs him to cooperate.

When an unknown enemy from Myles’ past begins hunting him, the hunter becomes the hunted. Myles will destroy anyone who dares threaten those he loves, but will Geneva become a casualty of his past? Or can Myles save her and begin a life he thought he never wanted?

Want to discover more about Sharon? Join Sharon's MAIL LIST or subscribe to her BLOG. And definitely follower her online:

Website


Tuesday, May 05, 2020

AUTHOR ROOMS Welcomes VANESSA RILEY!


Let me preface this post by saying that I LOVE me some Vanessa Riley! I also aspire to be as gracious and as kind as she is when I grow up. I am honored that she agreed to grace me with an interview. 

Vanessa is a gentle soul with one of the purest, sincerest spirits. The author of the Advertisements for Love series, she’s also a formidable force in these literary streets, continually challenging the historical representation of people of color to insure that our stories are told boldly and accurately. I consider it a blessing to be able to call her a friend.

Vanessa Riley writes Regency and Historical Romances of dazzling multi-culture communities with powerful persons of color. Vanessa writes for historical romance readers who admire and acquire books that showcase women who find joy in sweeping kisses and strong sisterhoods. Even in the darkness, she promises to give you laughs and to show you how light always prevails and how love always, always wins.

Vanessa holds a doctorate in mechanical engineering and a master’s in industrial engineering and engineering management from Stanford University. She also earned BS and MS in mechanical engineering from Penn State University. She has been a radio anchorwoman and church announcer. She is a member of Romance Writers of America and President-Elect of The Beau Monde, a specialty RWA Chapter. She is also a member of Georgia Romance Writers, NINC, and Historical Novel Society. She is on the Board of Directors of Christian Book Lovers Retreat where readers escape for a weekend of fun, faith and connection to the author community.

Vanessa juggles mothering a teen, cooking for her military-man husband, and speaking at women's and STEM events. She’s known for her love of romantic gestures, hidden histories, and humorous delivery of poignant truths. You can catch her writing from the comfort of her southern porch with a cup of Earl Grey tea.

Vanessa loves to write at night and research during the day. Her weekends are reserved for reading.

It is a joy to welcome her to my AUTHOR ROOMS segment. So, let’s get right to it!

What is the first book that ever made you cry, Vanessa?

That is a hard one to remember, but I think the first was The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The whole wrongful death scenario, the questioning of one’s worth and not figuring it out until it’s too late—that made me choke up. That was a struggle growing up in a broken home, finding one’s worth.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

Historical paintings. I can spend hours looking at the images and imagining their stories. I always think that there are hidden messages contained in the images.

How do you get past writer's block?

Reading a good book or watching “empty” TV shows where I don’t have to think too much truly helps. I also love shows that teach me something. I’m awed by American Pickers. Please come to my house and pay me hundreds of dollars for my junk!

If you could tell your younger writing self-anything, what would it be?

I would tell me to own my stories and my style of telling them. How author A does it is fine for Author A. My storytelling has to be true to me.

The fastest way to claim your place in the world is to be true to one’s self. There’s so much pressure trying to get you to conform, or to retell old stories or to write novels which wouldn’t be authentic for me to tell. I would tell me to value me.

What does literary success look like to you?

Success for me is drawing a core group of readers who love history or emotional women-centered tales. I think success is bravely building an authentic platform to tell stories that burn in your heart and soul.

What is it about your writing space that motivates your writing?

I love writing on my porch or deck. Both have great views of trees. Both are quiet with the right amount of sun. I can see my writing screen but not have to shade my eyes. They both have lovely tables to place a teapot and cup or a coffee mug. I need tea and Starbucks to write. I feel an inner peace writing in those spaces.


Up next for Vanessa is her book A DUKE, THE LADY, and A BABY. It’s the first book in her Rogue and Remarkable Women series.

Created by a shrewed countess, The Widow's Grace is a secret society with a mission: to help ill-treated widows regain their status, their families, and even find true love again--or perhaps for the first time...

When headstrong West Indian heiress Patience Jordan questioned her English husband's mysterious suicide, she lost everything: her newborn son, Lionel, her fortune--and her freedom. Falsely imprisoned, she risks her life to be near her child--until The Widow's Grace gets her hired as her son's nanny. But working for his unsuspecting new guardian, Busick Strathmore, Duke of Repington, has perils of its own. Especially when Patience discovers his military strictness belies an ex-rake of unswerving honor--and unexpected passion...

A wounded military hero, Busick is determined to resolve his dead cousin's dangerous financial dealings for Lionel's sake. But his investigation is a minor skirmish compared to dealing with the forthright, courageous, and alluring Patience. Somehow, she's breaking his rules, and sweeping past his defenses. Soon, between formidable enemies and obstacles, they form a fragile trust--but will it be enough to save the future they long to date together.

A DUKE, THE LADY, and A BABY is available for pre-order at Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Recently, HarperCollins announced the acquisition of Vanessa’s book, ISLAND QUEEN for their William Morrow imprint to be released in the summer of 2021. ISLAND QUEEN is a historical fiction novel based on the compelling life of Dorothy “Doll” Kirwan Thomas who rose from slavery to become the wealthiest woman landowner in the early 1800’s Caribbean. A mistress to royalty, the future King William IV of England, Dorothy advocated for women's rights and successfully appealed the unfair taxation of free persons of color on the Island of Demerara. I love that Vanessa's future writings will shine a bright spotlight on stories the history books have frequently excluded.

If you love historical fiction or just want to give it a try, discover more about Vanessa, her upcoming releases and her phenomenal backlist. You won't be disappointed!

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