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 González’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!

FOLLOW VANESSA RILEY!





Wednesday, April 22, 2020

AUTHOR ROOMS Welcomes SHARINA HARRIS!


“Sharina Harris has quickly become one of my new favorite authors. She has masterfully told a delightful story of friendship, romance, love and drama that was thoroughly engaging. She knows how to keep the pages turning, her characterization is on point, and the story-telling was everything. I look forward to the next book!"

My recent review of author Sharina Harris’s upcoming novel, (Im)perfectly Happy, doesn’t begin to express how much I enjoyed her new book. I was gifted with an advanced reading copy and it hit the proverbial mark when I really needed a good book to read.

Sharina has been quoted saying that (Im)perfectly Happy is "a love letter to black women who have often sacrificed themselves, their goals, happiness, and dreams for others." In actuality, it was all that and so very much more!

Inviting Sharina to participate in Author Rooms just made perfect sense and it was a joy to ask her about her writing and that space where she makes her magic happen. Please join me in giving a warm welcome to Sharina Harris!

Sharina, hello! Let’s just get right to it. What has been your biggest challenge as a writer? 

Time and energy for sure! Balancing a full-time job while raising a 2-year-old can get a little hectic, but I wouldn't trade this time in my life for anything.

What is your favorite childhood book?

I was a big Goosebumps fan. I loved scary books and graduated up (too quickly) to Stephen King and Anne Rice around middle school. These days I don't read as much horror anymore and lean more toward romance and women's fiction.

What has been your hardest scene to ever write?

There's a scene in (Im)perfectly Happy that was very difficult to write. One of my characters discovers a secret that her husband has hidden for years. She's distraught because she doesn't know how to help him and he's also pushing her away. It was difficult because I oftenget into the mind of my character, so much that for a temporary time I'll take on their mannerisms, or "think" like them. So, to live in her mindset when she thought her marriage was over was very difficult and emotional.

What would be your writer's avatar/mascot/spirit animal and why?

Ha! This is a great question and I recently discovered the answer. A month or so ago, I had an orange dragonfly follow me from the grocery store all the way home. Fun fact: did you know they can fly sixty miles per hour? Anyhow, I am not a bug or insect person AT ALL, so I waited it out and it finally flew away. A few days later I saw another dragonfly. I looked up the meaning and it symbolizes transformation, joy and creativity. So yeah...I guess I'm a dragonfly girl now.

How many unpublished and half-finished novels do you have?

I have one unpublished novel that I just turned in to my agent, and two half-unfinished novels. I am currently working on one of them. 

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

I love my office! I just purchased a new desk so now I have plenty of space. I have a vision board to my left and I'm facing two windows. I have a chaise leather sofa aka my "revision" couch, French doors with my son's fingerprints all over it, and large posters of my first contemporary romance series that my husband gifted me for Mother's Day last year. My space motivates me because it's spacious, has great natural light, and I just feel pure joy!

For more about Sharina click HERE! And do make sure to get your copy of her newest book! Thanks Sharina for sharing with us!

You can learn more about Sharina by visiting her website: www.SharinaHarris.com. Also, follow her on social media on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.


(Im)perfectly Happy by Sharina Harris
Kensington Publishing Corporation
Release Date: April 28, 2020


When four college friends formed the Brown Sugarettes Mastermind Group, they had very different goals--but matched each other in ambition. Yet ten years later they can't help wondering what happened to the hopeful, confident, driven women they used to be--and how to get them back…


When four college friends formed the Brown Sugarettes Mastermind Group, they had very different goals—but matched each other in ambition. Yet ten years later they can’t help wondering what happened to the hopeful, confident, driven women they used to be—and how to get them back . . .
Radio personality Raina, known as “the black Delilah,” hates the wholesome persona that’s made her a success. Doling out syrupy versions of her grandma’s wisdom feels worlds away from the sarcastic,
tell-it-like-it-is woman Raina really is.
Kara Jones was sure she’d be a master sommelier by thirty. Life and loss interfered with that plan. Now she has one more chance—but it’s taking a toll on her self-esteem and her marriage.
Nikki Grayson hardly recognizes the stay-at-home mom she’s become. When her band signed a record deal, she swapped the limelight for a minivan and a sensible ’do. Now she’s wishing she had followed her heart. Instead, she’s drowning her regret in alcohol.
Public defender Sienna Njeri willingly put her city council aspirations aside to support her fiancĂ©’s bid for office—and now she’s wondering if her loyalty is misplaced.
Longing for the support, advice, and tough love they once shared, all four resolve to start meeting up again. After all, their dreams may still be within reach. But are they worth the price they’ll pay to achieve them?

Where to Buy (Im)perfectly Happy?














Radio personality Raina, known as "the black Delilah," hates the wholesome persona that's made her a success. Doling out syrupy versions of her grandma's wisdom feels worlds away from the sarcastic, tell-it-like-it-is woman Raina really is.

Kara Jones was sure she'd be a master sommelier by thirty. Life and loss interfered with that plan. Now she has one more chance--but it's taking a toll on her self-esteem and her marriage.

Nikki Grayson hardly recognizes the stay-at-home mom she's become. When her band signed a record deal, she swapped the limelight for a minivan and a sensible 'do. Now she's wishing she had followed her heart. Instead, she's drowning her regret in alcohol.

Public defender Sienna Njeri willingly put her city council aspirations aside to support her fiancee's bid for office--and now she's wondering if her loyalty is misplaced.

Longing for the support, advice, and tough love they once shared, all four resolve to start meeting up again. After all, their dreams may still be within reach. But are they worth the price they'll pay to achieve them?

Thursday, March 19, 2020

WHAT WILL YOU BE MADE OF?



You would be hard pressed to not have heard anything about the Covid-19 pandemic. Unless you're Jared Leto on a self-imposed desert retreat! Whether you’ve been diligently watching your local news channel for regular updates or gathering your news from family and friends, it has become a worldwide dilemma with no relief in immediate sight. The virus is spreading at an unfathomable rate, critically impacting senior citizens and those with underlying health conditions. Sadly, people are dying as health officials worldwide struggle to find a cure or vaccine that works.

This pandemic is life-altering. The US economy has been completely derailed with small businesses shuttered indefinitely and the unemployment of millions. The foreseeable future looks bleak at best. People have had to completely upend their lives and for many, it has not been easy. Predictably, it will probably get even harder. Beyond the advice to wash your hands and sanitize everything, many have discovered that social distancing themselves to be an even bigger challenge. For the social butterflies amongst us, being confined to their homes, possibly alone, has been painful. Many are only one week in and already stir crazy.

My local news station is giving Covid-19 updates with regular frequency. Every few minutes they report on the rising infection rate, the lack of adequate testing, and the official government reaction, or inaction, as the situation changes rapidly. If what our European neighbors have experienced is any indication of what will come, I imagine that when testing does become readily available to all, the number of cases will be mind boggling.

In the next few months, many will learn what they are made of. They will discover the best and the worst of themselves, and others in their lives. They will learn what they stand for, or if they even stand for anything at all. I imagine disappointments will be deep and surprises will be abundant. Fear has people hording toilet paper and cleaning supplies. Greed has others hording supplies in order to turn pain into profit for themselves. Our government continues to fail us, the current administration concerned more for their failing image than the suffering of people impacted by this crisis. Racists have turned their hate toward Asians, believing a President who has blamed China for what is happening. Harassing and threatening your Chinese neighbor who was born in Michigan will somehow fix what is broken. We are seeing more of what we already knew to be true. Evil is rearing its ugly head. People’s true colors are waving like a red flag against a cloud-filled sky.

How will you face the challenges ahead? What will this crisis say about you? Will you be a helping hand in a time of need? Will you bury you head in the sand until the problems pass you by? Will you be self-less or selfish? While you’re washing your hands and sanitizing your counters think about the example you will be for your children. For family and friends. For strangers. Will you be refuge through the chaos? Or will you be another thorn in the calamity? Will you be light? Or just another dark path to nothing? What, pray tell, will you be made of? 

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

WELCOME TO THE TEA TABLE...SYNITHIA WILLIAMS

I don't often get to read for pure pleasure, but recently I was honored to receive a copy of FORBIDDEN PROMISES by author Synithia Williams. Talk about a joyful read! This book was everything I needed in that moment. Super-talented, Ms. Williams builds a beautiful story about a taboo romance and family loyalty. She pulls you in and keeps you holding on as you fall head over heels in love with her characters. It's a five-star read and I'd give it six or seven stars if I could!

I just had to invite her to my Tea Table to talk about her new book, which releases today, and was so excited when she agreed to answer a few questions for us. So please, give a warm welcome to SYNITHIA WILLIAMS!

So, Synithia, what does your writing process look like?

I am very much a plotter. I start with an idea and spend a few days or weeks thinking about the characters and what should happen in the story. From there I’ll draft a synopsis for the entire story and create a plot board outlining each chapter. I don’t always follow the outline I create because the characters always do what they want to in the end, but my outline gives me a good enough road map to stay on track.

What literary character is most like you and why?

That’s a good question. I never thought of that before. I’m probably a mixture of several characters. I can see myself as a combination of Savannah and Robin from Waiting to Exhale and Elizabeth from Pride and Prejudice. I’m a little snarky, pessimistic, and guarded, but I’m also a hopeless romantic. It’s why I write romance.

What's the best writing advice you've ever been given?

Finish the book. That’s been the best advice and what I always go back to. I can’t edit, publish, or promote a blank page. When I wanted to pursue publishing and was working on three different books someone told me to pick one and finish it. That’s the advice I’d give to anyone struggling with writing right now. Pick a book/idea and finish it. You can figure out everything else once the book is done.

What secret talent do you have that no one knows about?

I can pick up things with my toes. That may not be a great talent, and my husband thinks it’s funny, but I wasn’t blessed with a great singing voice, I can’t dance (though I love dancing), and I gave up piano lessons years ago. So, I’ll go with my useful toes.




I so appreciate Synithia taking time from her busy schedule to share a little bit about herself with us. Now, anyone who knows me, knows I love a beautiful cover. FORBIDDEN PROMISES has one of the prettiest covers of any book this year. It absolutely makes my heart sing! Today is the official release day! Run and get your copy now! You won't be disappointed.

FORBIDDEN PROMISES

What do you do when you want the one person you can never have?

Get in and get out. That was India Robidoux’s plan for this family visit. But when her brother needs her help with his high-profile political campaign, India has no choice but to stay and face the one man she’s been running from for years—Travis, her sister’s ex-husband. One hot summer night when Travis was still free, they celebrated her birthday with whiskey and an unforgettable kiss. The memory is as strong as ever—and so are the feelings she’s tried so hard to forget.

Travis Strickland owes everything to the Robidoux family. There’s nothing he wouldn’t do for them—his divorce could never change that. Still, he has one regret. Impulsive and passionate, India always understood him better than anyone else. And the longer they work together on the campaign, the more torn he is. Coming between her and her sister is out of the question. But how can he let love pass him by a second time?

More About the Author:

Synithia Williams has been an avid romance novel lover since picking up her first one at the age of thirteen. It was only natural that she would begin penning her own romances soon after. She’s a native of South Carolina and now writes romances as hot as their southern settings. She’s published over fifteen, novels since 2012. Her seventh book, Making it Real, was listed as one of the Must Read Romances of 2015 in USA Today. Her second release with Harlequin Kimani, A Malibu Kind of Romance was a 2017 RITA® finalist and she’s a two-time African American Literary Award Show nominee in Romance. Synithia is married to her own personal hero and they have two sons who’ve convinced her that professional wrestling and superheroes are supreme entertainment.

You can learn more about Synithia by visiting her website: www.synithiawilliams.com or follow her on social media on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Books and Main.