Tuesday, August 21, 2018

IT'S RELEASE DAY!


It's RELEASE DAY for the paperback version of my newest book A STALLION DREAM! It is also my last Kimani Romance! First week sales are critical to its success, so PLEASE, support it by buying a copy if you can. And get one for a friend! You won't be disappointed!
And there's still time to PRE-ORDER the Ebook version coming September 1st! PLEASE and THANK YOU!
A STALLION DREAM - It's time for a great read!


Thursday, August 02, 2018

BEING BLACK 2.0

Two years ago I felt compelled to write a post about being a black woman, and a writer. It was in response to a white reader who was offended that I was breathing. Two years have passed and sadly, little has changed. I still get the occasional hate message questioning what makes me so damn special although it's not necessarily worded in a positive manner. Since it's Throwback Thursday and almost two years to the day of my original post I thought I'd repost it. I have new fans who don't really know me or haven't heard my story. This will be an introduction of sorts. Insight into how I tick and how I won't roll. So sit back and enjoy! And if you're inclined, explore my blog a little. I'm sure you'll find something entertaining!

BEING BLACK - Originally posted 8/4/16

I received an email from someone who wanted to know who I thought I was. There were some expletives and the N-word was used a time or two. Seems something I wrote struck a sensitive nerve and she doesn't plan to ever read any of my books. Ever. But since she asked, I thought I'd tell her about myself. Rather than send her back to an original post I wrote once a long time ago I thought I'd just rehash it again for those who might be finding me for the first time.

I wrote once before about a friend who thinks it is the funniest thing that I never drank Kool-Aid until I was well into my teens. Every time the subject comes up he is rolling on the floor with laughter. I can’t help but laugh myself because what family back in the day didn’t raise their children on Kool-Aid? Well, mine didn’t.

My first experience with Kool-Aid was at a cousin’s house during a summer break. I thought it was the coolest thing to be able to make a full pitcher of drink from that little packet of colored powder and a bucket load of granulated sugar! When I returned home and shared the experience with my mother she looked at me like I’d told her we’d built an atomic bomb out of shoe leather and toothpaste. She was not amused and it was many years later, after her first grandson was born, that she finally broke down and allowed Kool-Aid into her home. It was also that presweetened variety as well, not the little flavor packets that you could sweeten yourself.

My dear friend laughed himself silly when I told him I’d also never eaten canned vegetables, potted meat, Vienna sausages, or government cheese either. Not that he could talk because he never ate grits. I mean really, how many Southern Baptist black children do you know that didn’t grow up eating grits? I know I ate me some grits and I wasn’t Southern or Baptist!

I was raised in an extremely white, middle class neighborhood in very wealthy Fairfield County, Connecticut. My friends were kids who got BMW’s for their first communion and Mercedes Benz’s for their bar mitzvah’s. My mother shopped at Lord and Taylors and Bloomingdales, and I’d be the first to say that I grew up privileged, prissy and just a tad pretentious.

Ours was the first of four black families to integrate the neighborhood and until fifth grade there were only two black students in the elementary school I attended. We attended the AME church on the other side of town and I spent my summers on my grandparent’s South Carolina farm where I learned to pick cotton and eat watermelon right off the vine.

Growing up, I was an anomaly. I wasn’t blonde or blue-eyed, my mother wasn’t a stay-at-home Mom, and my father worked three jobs and none of them were on Wall Street. During my fifth grade year bussing became en vogue and suddenly there were other black kids filling up the classrooms. That’s when I discovered just how different I truly was. I didn’t feel different or look different but to everyone else I was suddenly too white to be black and too black to be white. I was called Oreo, half-n-half, high yeller, wannabe, jigaboo, and a host of other expletives more than I was called by my name. It wasn’t pretty, left me traumatized and would have made for great afternoon fodder on Oprah's sofa.

I’ve had to deal with issues of race most of my life. The environment I was raised in called it into question on a daily basis. I was either treated differently because the color of my skin was different, or I was treated differently because I spoke and behaved differently. Out of sheer necessity I learned early how to walk in two very different worlds but I was never made to feel welcome or comfortable in either.

Fast forward a few years and I married and divorced a biracial man of white and Portuguese parentage straddling his own fence. He still doesn’t have a clue where he falls on the color wheel. Our children are an amalgamation of many ethnicities and they could care less. Depending on the mood of the moment they’ve been known to check either the "black" box, the "white" box or the "other" box proudly, not having a clue what color their Kool-Aid should be. They listen to rap, classical and hard rock, eat chitlin’s, pizza, and Puerco guisado, and genuinely can’t understand what all the hoopla is about race and why people fear it so.

When I was first called about my very first manuscript, the editor at the time spoke to me on the telephone for a good fifteen minutes about my book. The conversation was curious at best and then she asked if I would please email her a picture of myself. I thought it a pretty strange request but hey, a real publisher was interested in my writing so I was ready to send as many photos as she wanted. Ten minutes after she received the email I received my second CALL and an offer to purchase my book. I later understood that they wanted to be sure I was what I claimed to be, a black woman who'd written a black romance. Apparently that didn’t come across over the telephone line.

I have no doubts that the majority of my readers are black women. Interestingly though, I had a book signing once where I sold a lot of books. Only one of the fans who came to see me was a black woman. Most of the books sold were purchased by non-black readers, male and female. I thought for just a brief second that there was actually some progress being made and then one elderly “fan” felt compelled to expound on what she thought about me and my writing. The praises were plentiful and complementary and then she leaned in, her hand pressed against my shoulder and said, “I really do like your writing. And it’s not like you’re really black, dear.”

As a black author published in the romance genre I find myself once again straddling a fence where I understand that I’m not necessarily welcome nor is there any concern that I’m comfortable. I’m discovering that to write what I want to write I will clearly have to walk in two very different worlds or make the conscious decision not to be published at all.

I wish I could be as dismissive about race as my children but I can’t. My race has a major impact on where my books are shelved in the stores, if they’re carried in certain bookstores at all, and whether or not I can even get a book deal. My race impacts how I see myself in others, when the media, movies, and books depict black women as being less than we are; somehow flawed and undeserving. My race is why random strangers think they can call me a nigger and get away with it simply because I called out the publishing industry to just do better when it comes to diversity in books.

I’m not blonde this week and since my last blonde disaster I doubt highly that me and Miss Clairol will be trying that ever again. I’ll never be blue-eyed and there is no longer anything prissy, privileged or pretentious about me. I am, however, one hell of a force to be reckoned with.

And more importantly, I’m a damn good writer no matter what I happen to be writing about. I’ve got a lot of storytelling in me and just like my Kool-Aid, the flavor I tell them in will be however I choose. I am a thing of beauty. A joy. A strength. And like my Kool-Aid, a secret cup of gladness. That's who I am. And since I don’t plan to go anywhere any time soon, you really should pull up a seat, grab yourself a glass, and join me. Otherwise, you're going to miss out on something amazing!  

And just to be sure we understand each other, if you call me a black bitch again, I may very well show you one, and my being black won't have anything to do with what I unleash.

Monday, July 02, 2018

AllAUTHOR COVER OF THE MONTH CONTEST


If you liked the cover of my book,
Brawn (A One Love Short Story), please vote for it for the Cover of the Month contest on AllAuthor.com!




Click to Vote!

Monday, June 18, 2018

BE WARNED



Our current President and his administration lie. They lie with a voracity that is absolutely mind-boggling. If he can say his is bigger, better, and brighter he could care less whether there is any truth to his declarations. He will never acknowledge his shortcomings and will readily lay the blame for his transgressions at the feet of Jesus if he thinks it will keep him in favor with his political base.
He is determined to give those who voted for him a wall. A miles-long continuum of brick, mortar, and armed guards intended to keep out the black and brown-skinned people he, and others, believe are a threat to the great white way of America. He has no understanding why there has been obstruction, that thus far, has kept that wall from rising.
History has clearly taught 45 nothing. But then one must know history to learn from it. There is no understanding of why walls don’t work and most inevitably come down. He cannot comprehend the reasons for rebellion when people are oppressed. He despises the dissent against his core beliefs and readily rails against those who show disdain for him. In his heart, the Klan and white supremacists are good people and immigrants are animals who hail from shit-hole countries. He has closed the door to those seeking refuge, aspiring to the American dream on which this land was founded. He lauds foreign leaders who are equally as narcissistic and wants HIS people to bow to his will.
Now he is holding children hostage in the name of political gain. He has no qualms about using little brown boys and girls as pawns for immigration reform. Give him his wall and he might give these babies back to their mothers and fathers. He is reprehensible and though he would like to claim they are only following the laws established by the Democrats, that has been proven to be yet another blatant lie. He digs in his heels because he will have that wall at the expense of people he could care little about. He is cold, heartless, lacks integrity, is an international joke, and an abomination to the American people. 
Every sitting member of the United States Congress should be warned. Your silence makes you just as culpable. Your defense of this heinous practice is inexcusable. Your blatant refusal to do anything is beyond vile. If you are waiting to see what your brethren will do instead of leading the charge to stop this and insure every child is returned to their families, you are even more despicable. Do not ever preach family values when your own moral turpitude reeks of elitism, racism, and apathy. If picking on innocent children, whose parents only wanted better for them, is okay with you, then you will reap what you sow. If you pick and choose Biblical tenets to justify babies being caged and treated like cattle, you too, are as evil, and hell will gladly welcome you.
Know that voters will not forget come election time. There are scores of women and men, and mothers and fathers, from both sides of the aisle, who will use their disgust for this administration, to fuel the fight for significant change. Come hell or high water we will return integrity and decency to our government. We will be represented by people who will fight for the best interests of the people and not the personal agendas of a select few. If you have lost our respect you will lose our vote. And it is the American people you should fear far more than the Commander-in-Chief.
Be warned.  If you don't do what's right, we will see you unseated if it’s the last thing we do. 

Friday, June 01, 2018

Sunday, May 06, 2018

MEET THE BLACKS - SEDUCED BY THE BADGE

The characters in every book I write have a celebrity inspiration. A face or personality that just fits the persona of the individual I am fleshing out. My new Harlequin Suspense series, To Serve and Seduce, follows members of a Chicago family dedicated to law enforcement. The family is headed by patriarch Jerome Black, the superintendent of police and his wife, federal court judge Judith Harmon Black. The stories will follow sons, Armstrong, Ellington, Parker, Davis, and Mingus,  and daughters, Simone and Vaughan, all seasoned veterans in the Chicago judicial system. 

The first book, coming June 1, 2018, SEDUCED BY THE BADGE, is the story of Chicago detective Armstrong Black and Danielle "Danni" Winstead. 

Chicago detective Armstrong Black follows the rules—his rules. When he’s assigned to partner with an Atlanta detective who’s hell-bent on bringing down criminals who targeted her sister, he’s determined to stay in control. But stunning Danni Winstead is all blazing temper and sweet temptation. Working with her tests Armstrong’s restraint; trusting her could put them both in fatal jeopardy…

It gives me great pleasure to share the images that inspired the characters. Meet the Black family!




Friday, March 02, 2018

I NEED THEM TO SHINE!



For weeks now I have been frustrated with my favorite shows SCANDAL and HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER. I haven’t been feeling Olivia Pope played by Kerry Washington or Annalise Keating played by Viola Davis. Then last night, the ABC crossover event that paired the two characters fighting side by side brought it full circle and gave me new life!

What was always relevant about Olivia and Annalise is they were two African-American women in positions of power fighting a good fight. You rooted for them. You wanted to see them succeed. You needed them to win because they’re fictional accomplishments buoyed the daily wins of black women just like them. Black women who had no voice and no representation in the media. They were golden, and we needed them to shine!

Then suddenly there was a shift in the writing and their vulnerability had them downtrodden and unlikeable. Both Washington and Davis played their roles brilliantly. So much so that there was a backward shift in the fanfare. We weren’t rooting for them like we were in the beginning. Viewers were frustrated and conversations around the watercooler on Friday mornings were lackluster at best. But last night we were blessed with a glimpse of light that had everyone singing their praises.

What I realized is that too often when we saw black women on television, the roles were always bittersweet. Already underrepresented we were not portrayed at our best. We were shown as weak, deviant, misguided, and/or angry. We stood in the background and were silent observers in other people’s lives. We didn’t shine. I don’t need to see anymore of that. Personally, I was tired of Annalise and her failings. I wanted brilliant Annalise who could run circles around the best in the business. Mean girl Olivia, angry Olivia, evil Olivia, gave me indigestion. I couldn’t stomach her hissing and spitting and clawing her way over people. I needed brilliant Olivia, being the best fixer and making choices because they were the right choices to make. I was desperate to have those characters back and last night both brought back the light!

I hope Shonda Rhimes, Scandal’s creator and Peter Nowalk, the creator of How To Get Away With Murder, will continue to represent these women at their very best. I have no doubts about Kerry or Viola playing the hell out of the roles as they’re written. I just need the storytelling and the characters to continue to shine! I need them to keep representing the best of all black women!

Friday, February 09, 2018

FAR FROM BEING FIRST


This author gig is hard. The work involved is never-ending. There is no writing a story and just releasing it into the universe with your fingers crossed that it will do well. It becomes a never-ending cycle of telling a great story, staying relevant in a saturated marketplace and if you are an author of color writing romance, the inevitable fight to be respected and welcomed where you are too often told you are not wanted. For black authors every book is a fight for acceptance, to sit at the table and be treated fairly. But I speak for many of us when I say that we welcome that fight. Because we have stories to tell about characters who look like us. People of color who struggle and fight and love fiercely.
The television program THIS IS US, has become one of my favorites. The writing is exceptional. But what calls me to watch each week, it the loving relationship between Randall and Beth Pearson, played divinely by Sterling K. Brown and Susan Kelechi Watson. The love and devotion between a black man and a black woman who respect and admire each other is a rarity in television. But for many, like myself, it reflects the history of our parents and our grandparents and the family that loved and nurtured each other and their children. Despite the lack of black couples in television, the Pearson’s are no more an oddity than breathing is. They just do a damn good job of representing what we already know exists.
Before the Pearson’s, we watched and adored Heathcliff and Clair Huxtable, Florida and James Evans, Dwayne Wayne and Whitley Gilbert. They laid the foundation of black love on television. Seeing their love stories on the big screen gave value to what many people of color live each and every day. Yet, we are constantly told that kind of love doesn’t exist and has no audience.
I write romance. My heroes are always strong black men and my heroines even stronger black women. Occasionally, I’ll stir things up and give my stories some swirl. In the romance genre, authors of color occupy a very small sliver of that much larger multi-billion-dollar pie. But we’re out here, standing shoulder-to-shoulder, arm-in-arm, lifting each other up, because ultimately, we all have the same goal. To tell great stories about two people falling in love, in whatever flavor moves us.
When a new author joins the fold, I get excited. Because a new voice, another perspective, a sister-in-arms, trumps the naysayers who proclaim we don’t belong. In our small community we welcome newcomers with an open heart, ready to help push and promote their book baby. We know that for far too many of us, we are all we have. The powers in charge aren’t bending over backwards to promote our stories. Hell, they’re barely trying to see us published! So, we are always ready and willing to step into the gap and do whatever we can. I know I am, and I do so to honor the black women who paved this path that I’ve been blessed to travel. The literary Queens who were the first and sometimes the only voices of color fighting to tell our stories. The matriarchy that pushed and pulled so many of us along and consistently encouraged us to do what we so love to do.
Recently, I was so ready to welcome a new author into this sisterhood. I was ecstatic to see her getting press so many of us have continually been denied. It felt like a step in the right direction that her publisher was standing firmly behind her. And then, in the blink of an eye, she and her advisors threw a boulder at the rest of us that hit hard and stung like hell. To hear them tell it, her story is the first of its kind. They proclaimed that the rest of us don’t exist. It seems she single-handedly invented black romance. I was offended to the nth degree and I was not alone.
In a recent interview, the newbie said, “I want[ed] more books about people like me. People who aren’t white but also people who have diverse lives, who live in cities and have friends of different ethnicities. It just felt false to me to read books that were just about white people.”
Well, baby girl, let me enlighten you. Author Sandra Kitt was the first black woman to write for Harlequin, publishing her first three books by 1984. Her novels featured African-American characters and tackled social issues, race relations, class differences, and interracial relationships. They were people who had diverse lives, lived in cities with friends of different ethnicities and weren’t just about white people. The list of black romance authors who followed is lengthy and distinguished. Have you ever heard of Donna Hill or Rochelle Alers, two prolific black women authors who helped lay the foundation for black romance? You are far from being the first to bring black love to black women.
Black romance authors can’t talk about black romance without bowing to Brenda Jackson, and Beverly Jenkins. To ignore their continued contributions to the industry is an insult of magnanimous proportions. Queen Brenda and Queen Beverly have helped many of us get a foothold in this industry, grooming us for what would come, teaching us the ins and outs of writing and writing well, cheering our efforts, applauding our successes and being a shoulder when the writing fails us.
And they are not the only ones. Renowned author Jacquelin Thomas mentored me and has been a fixture in my life since I got that call some fifteen years ago. I am honored that all these women cared enough to help nurture my career and I’m blessed to be able to call them friends. I can’t fathom how anyone could extoll their own efforts without giving due praise to those who set the bar and who continue to dictate the standard that is expected from the rest of us.
I can’t begin to list the best-selling, award-winning black authors with membership in this club. Women, and a few men, who have whole-heartedly embraced the good and the bad within the industry. Who have achieved a degree of success despite the efforts of others to keep them from it. Writers who love to write, respect the readers who support them and who readily share their knowledge whenever they’re able. There isn’t enough space to list them individually and to extoll the virtues of each and every one of them. But if I could, I would!
I hate that any author would think that slighting the rest of us to promote their work is a good thing. I’m disappointed that it was necessary for this author to proclaim herself the one and only saving light for the host of readers who have supported black romance authors and the black romance genre since before she even thought about becoming a writer. The blatant disrespect was chilling. I’m annoyed that there are those who seem determined to not do better. And I’m pissed that another black woman would make this author gig even harder than it has already proven to be.






Monday, January 29, 2018

BULLSHIT


I don’t have the energy to entertain bullshit. I might be a lot jaded after one too many affiliations gone awry. It’s why I’m persnickety about who I allow into my life and most particularly into my heart. My heart is fragile and because it has been broken, even shattered a time or two, I’ve built walls that stretch miles high to protect me from getting hurt.
I’m always amazed by those who are fueled by discord and conflict. Persons who thrive on drama and consume negativity for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Those aren’t people I welcome into my circle and at the first hint of conflict, I quickly become dismissive. I have no problems sweeping other people and their ugliness as far from me as I can.
Recently, I was annoyed when associates called to repeat something a former acquaintance had to say about me. It seems that the gossip train has been running on full steam! For a brief moment, it bothered me because her truth was anything but factual, which is why we fell out in the first place. She lied to me. Repeatedly. Even when given the opportunity to come clean, she continued to lie. Losing my trust is the kiss of death for any relationship. And not only are you dead to me, but never again will I have a need to invoke your name. Not even to spit on it.
Friends called to make me aware that I was being discussed, and to see what I had to say about the situation. But I wasn’t interested in spilling any tea. I don’t waste good drink on people who are dead to me. So, I didn’t entertain the bullshit. Life’s too short for the games we use to play in grade school. Had I felt a need to tell my side of the story, I would have done so when the incident first happened. Instead, I said what needed to be shared to the persons involved and that’s where I left it. I couldn't help but think that other people might want to do the same. Because bullshit stinks to high hell if it ever gets thrown back at you, so it’s best not to entertain it at all.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

HAPPY NEW YEAR!




I greeted someone today with a cheery new year wish and was swiftly dismayed when they turned around and asked me what was there to be happy about. It was an eye blink moment as I realized my joys may not necessarily be their joys. The first call of the New Year came from a family member who wanted to complain about the same damn things she’s been complaining about for the last five years. It was the same story, different day, and she was the only common denominator. She was allowed her moment because that’s how it has always been. When she finally hung up, I blocked her number. Not this year, Satan. Not this year.
Last year was rough. It took its toll and when I found myself on the verge of a nervous breakdown I realized I had to change for things to be different in my life. So, I once again washed my hands and my heart of everything that was toxic. I severed friendships, distanced myself from family, and focused solely on all things that brought me joy. If it caused me any ounce of angst I let it go. I refused to be inundated with other people’s problems and issues when I had my own to deal with. I focused on me and I became unapologetic about what I needed and wanted. I chose the path I needed to follow to get myself wherever it was I needed to be.
For me, embracing the New Year is all about continuing this life journey and being the best me I can possibly be. It will be about writing what I want to write and telling the stories I need to tell. I no longer have a desperate need to be validated by others. I know my worth and I will not allow it to be diminished by someone else’s lies. I’m happy with me and I really don’t give a damn if anyone else is.

I didn’t pledge to do anything specific this year. There was no long list of resolutions. I refuse to put that kind of pressure on myself. I know stress can kill and I have way too much living to do. But I did discover this wonderful list of life lessons a few weeks back that was circling the internet. Of the many declarations, there were a few that stood out and caught my attention. I have found myself referring to it often as I contemplate the New Year and I thought I would share them here.
And to answer that man’s question, what is there to be happy about? I say, EVERYTHING!

LIFE LESSONS for 2018

·         When in doubt, just take the next small step.
·         Life is too short not to enjoy it.
·         Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.
·         It’s OK to get angry with God. He can take it.           
·         Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present
·         Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
·         If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.
·         Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don’t worry; God never blinks.
·         Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
·         Get rid of anything that isn’t useful.  Clutter weighs you down in many ways.
·         It’s never too late to be happy.  But it’s all up to you and no one else.
·         When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.
·         No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
·         Always choose Life.
·         Time heals almost everything. Give Time, time.
·         Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
·         Believe in miracles.
·         God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do.
·         Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
·         Growing old beats the alternative — dying young.
·         All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
·         Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
·         Envy is a waste of time. Accept what you already have, not what you think you need
·         No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
·         Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.
·         The best is yet to come…