Happy Halloween and Welcome Peeps!
Today on ye old blog I’m thrilled to have my friend and fellow Kensington publishing sister, Nicole Blades here to answer a couple of question on her latest release:
HAVE YOU MET NORA? (OUT TODAY!).
She’s blossomed from a wealthy surgeon’s beautiful daughter to elegant socialite to being the top fashion stylist in the country. And Nora Mackenzie is only days away from marrying into one of New York’s richest, most powerful families. But her fairy tale rise is rooted in an incredible deception—one scandal away from turning her perfect world to ashes . . .
What no one knows is that Nora is the biracial daughter of a Caribbean woman and a long-gone white father. Adopted—and abused—by her mother’s employer, then sent to an exclusive boarding school to buy her silence, Nora found that “passing” as a white woman could give her everything she never had.
Now, an ex-classmate who Nora betrayed many years ago has returned to her life to even the score. Her machinations are turning Nora’s privilege into one gilded trap after another. Running out of choices, Nora must decide how far she will go to protect a lie or give up and finally face the truth.
Thank you so much for being here Nicole and for answering my questions:
KMJ: First off What inspired you to write this story?
N.B.: I’ve always been deeply interested in identity, more specifically, how someone organizes their entire spirit around being something and claiming it out loud. I’m also curious about the weird line between how we see ourselves and how we wish the world views us. For some people, the two versions are similar and live close to that line. And of course, for others, the two “selves” can be worlds apart.
For this story, I wanted to go even deeper with this concept and examine how someone could construct an identity rooted in a lie, taking “fake it ‘til you make it” to a totally different level. And then, how far would they go to protect that identity that they’ve created out of nothing but dust and dreams? I had to find out!
K.M.J: What advice would you give other aspiring writers?
N.B.: I’ve been asked to offer advice to writers a few times, and I tend to say basic things. I must preface this by saying that advice can be tricky. What works for one person might lead to total disaster for another—and getting too many opinions can often leave you feeling more bewildered than when you started. You have to have a certain presence of mind and awareness to recognize what “wise words” to keep and what you can just let fall away. All that said (heh.), here’s my advice to writers: First, read. I know, with the way the world is spinning and all that’s going on, It can certainly feel like there’s not enough time to read everything. So many links, so many books, so many articles and posts! But the fact is, you have to make the time to read books, because writers read. And it’s important to read wide–read genres that are not necessarily up your alley, read authors you wouldn’t normally lean toward, read great work and less-great work too. Keep it varied; expose yourself to all the flavors, and add breadth to your POV.
The second key piece of advice I would suggest is also simple (in theory, anyway): You must write. It’s one thing to say that you want to write X or Y, but it’s whole other thing to actual sit your bum in the chair and do it. We are busy, all of us. We are juggling plenty, but you must make the time to write if you want to be a writer. Find a schedule that works with your life—getting up before the sun or blocking off two hours at night after everyone’s gone to bed—and write, and try to do it every day. Even if it starts with 20 minutes a day and you build from there, just do it. Storytelling is a craft and you have to continue to work on it.
Lastly, find your voice and use it. Don’t bother emulating your favorite writer. That’s their voice. Use yours to tell the stories that you want to read, the stories that you’re not seeing out there. Trying to decipher the code about what sells and what people want to read is wasted energy. You should have one goal: tell a great story. Focus on that goal. All the other stuff—the genre that works for you, loyal readers, bigger-better opportunities, even book sales—they are byproducts that often show up when you’re fixed on telling a good story in your voice.
K.M.J:Lastly, please share with us what’s next for you?
N.B.: Next for me is the H.Y.M.N. (small) book tour. First stop is the nation’s capital. I’ll be at Sankofa Bookstore in Washington D.C. on November 6th at 6:30 p.m. Then back to New England for a local-ish book event at R.J. Julia Bookstore at Wesleyan on November 14th at 7 p.m. before heading to Canada for fun events in my hometown Montreal followed by Toronto. (All my upcoming events are listed on my web site: NicoleBlades.com.)
I’m also working on a new novel. I don’t like to talking too much about whatever I’m cooking up. I’m a little weird and low-key superstitious about it, but I’ll just say break out of my usual rule and say this: It’s about a scientist, struggling to move through her broken life, who stumbles into investigating a mysterious illness that’s killing off the nation’s youth. I’m really hoping to be finished by the end of the year. Wish me luck, and good writing vibes!
And now here is an excerpt from HAVE YOUR MET NORA?:
Nora opened her eyes and stared through the darkness at the ceiling. Three twenty-eight, she thought, before rolling up off her back a little and craning her neck to look just past Fisher’s shoulders at the blue numbers on the clock by his nightstand. He was dead asleep, the rhythmic flow of his deep breathing like white noise. The numbers gleamed: 3:41 am. Close enough, she thought, and returned to the ceiling. Although Nora had long been an early riser—she couldn’t remember a time when she had slept later than the sun—this was different.
She eased the covers off and slid out from under Fisher’s muscled arm, moving slow and steady toward the edge of the bed. She hopped down, landing with a soft thud, and then froze, shifting her eyes back to Fisher. No change. Not even a break in the beat. Nora grabbed her iPhone and padded along the hall. The moon, pushing through the floor-to-ceiling windows of the penthouse, provided more than enough light for Nora to find the handle to the mini champagne fridge that Fisher bought for her last year. Nora gave the half-drunk bottle of Armand de Brignac—a gift from a client—her deepest bow with prayer hands before grabbing it and shutting the fridge door with her foot. She pulled the orange stopper from the bottle, letting it drop to the floor, and started typing into her phone on her way to the bathroom at the far end of the penthouse. Nora waited until she was inside the empty, freestanding tub before taking her first, long swig from the bottle. She rested her phone on the ledge of the tub and pressed a button on a remote that sent the massive blinds skyward. Nora stayed there in the empty basin, soaking in the city’s glow, and waited.
Her phone buzzed and vibrated against the acrylic. She took another sip before answering it.
“What the hell is wrong with you?” a croaky voice said.
Nora shook her head. “I’m just—”
“Nervous? You’re just nervous, hon. It’s pre-wedding jitters. You’re fixin’ to get married to that gorgeous, big-*icked, super-hot bastard in twenty-two—no, twenty-one days and you’re feeling anxious. That’s all. No Biggie Smalls.”
“Jenna, I’m sitting in an empty tub, pounding old champagne straight from the bottle, and staring out the *ucking window. Do you really think it’s necessary to remind me that there are twenty-two days—”
“Technically it’s twenty-one—”
“Jesus, fine, twenty-one days. It’s twenty-one days before the wedding. I’m aware. My whole entire body is aware. We’re all very aware.”
“Deep breaths, sweetheart. You’re freaking out. This is what freaking out looks like on all normal women,” Jenna said. Her Southern twang, though soft, still tickled Nora. “You’re just different. It’s foreign territory for you.”
Nora stopped mid-swig, her arm wobbling and then dropping with the weight of the bottle into her lap. “What does that mean?” she said, squinting her eyes and bracing her body.
“Nothing, just, I don’t know. . . . I mean, you’re always even and calm; it’s preternatural,” Jenna said. “No matter what’s going on, you’re on like perma-chill. It’s automatic for you. No headless chicken stuff.” A chuckle. “It’s why we kept calling you I.Q. when we first met you. Ice Queen.”
Jenna’s full creaky cackle made Nora move the phone away from her ear and level it on the ledge of the tub. She could still hear Jenna from that distance, but pushed Speaker anyway and went back to drinking her champagne. Nora reclined, cradling the bottle into her chest. “Ice Queen? Seriously? And here I was thinking you were dazzled by my smarts.”
“Oh, we were. Totally. By your smarts, for sure, and also your long legs, your frat-boy mouth, your perky *its, them Kelly Ripa arms, and your entire wardrobe, espesh the shoes. Plus, you speak fluent French—I mean, *ucking French—and you’re the first white girl I’ve ever met who can actually dance. Like, legit, Beyoncé backup dancer dance. Need I go on?”
“Yes, you need. Come on, I’m practically perfect,” Nora said, the beginnings of a laugh tickling her throat.
“Practically?” Jenna said, yawning. “Okay, so we’ve thoroughly covered your Boss Bitch status. It’s why Fish is locking you down so fast, while those eggs are still viable.” Nora’s expanding grin disappeared, replaced by a clenched jaw and gnashed teeth. “What I need clarity on is: Why are dry-tub drinking again?”
“How did you know I’m in the tub?”
“Echoes, booby. Also, you said so earlier. Either way, I’ve got you pretty much figured out. You’re not the QB on this play. What’s the wedding planner’s name again, Gloria? Glenda? Whatever. She’s the quarterback. She’s the one calling all the plays, and you’re watching from the sidelines and it’s driving you bananz.”
“First, are you talking sports at me?”
“A little,” Jenna said through her teeth.
“You’re still hooking up with that sports writer guy?”
“Wait, isn’t he the one who sent you the dick pic when you asked to see his new coffee table?”
“Well, it was pretty impressive . . . the coffee table.”
“Jesus, Jenna. What needs to happen to get you out of these dating app traps? Nothing but Dumpster fires on there.”
“Hold up, I met Sports Guy the old-school way, my dear: at a bar, not on a dating app,” Jenna said. “You kidding me? My filters are tight. He would’ve never made the cut.”
“What about the one who called you from rehab on what was supposed to be your third date?”
“Oh, that whole thing was about me trying to be charitable. I’m from Texas. It’s how we do.”
“Father-God, you need prayer,” Nora said, closing her eyes and leaning her head back in the tub.
“You sound like my sister’s nanny, Bernadette. She says that all the time about those twins: Fahdah-Gowd,” Jenna said, mangling it. “She’s from Trinidad, I think. No, St. Kitts. One of those islands. But you got that accent down solid. So many tricks in your little black hat, woman.”
You can pick up your copy of HAVE YOU MET NORA?
And Follow Nicole on line at NicoleBlades.com to stay up on her latest happenings!
Thanks so much for being with us Nicole!
Hope you’ve all been doing well. I’m so sorry to have been MIA, but things in KMJ land have been as hectic as ever. I’m happy to say I’ve just written the end on book 1 in my new Sugar Lake series so yay to that! I can’t wait to introduce you all to these new characters and this tasty new town.
That said I hope you all are great and have you picked up The Betting Vow yet? NPR calls it: “a satisfying romance that shows a wedding is just the beginning of happy ever after.”
When it comes to love you always play to Win!
The Betting Vow
All the best,
Hi Peeps! I’m so happy to greet you all today and even happier to greet you with guest news! Today on ye old blog I’m proud to introduce to some, though many of you already know her, the incredibly talented writer, Micah Persell. Micah is here to tell us about and share a bit from her latest book, Uncharted Waters which was just released this week! Take it away Micah!
Hello, everyone! I’m so excited to be here today to talk about my latest book, Uncharted Waters. This book has a special place in my heart because the heroine works in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) field as a scientist at the top of her field in gray water recycling systems. Women comprise 48% of the general work force, but we’re only 24% of the workers in the quickly growing STEM fields, and the representation of STEM heroines in romance is much, much less than even that. I couldn’t be prouder to have written Bethany Morgan, the woman who ends up snowed in with a sexy, virgin recluse in the Rocky Mountains. I hope you find this book just as sweet, sexy, and empowering as I did when I wrote it! Thank you so much, Kwana, for this opportunity to talk to your wonderful readers!
Here is an excerpt from Uncharted Waters:
“I promise not to touch you if you get more comfortable, James,” she said softly and firmly, more a warning to herself than anything else.
He hesitated, but she could tell he was longing to cool off. Suspecting pressing him would only keep him clothed, she stayed silent and simply watched him.
After what felt like an eternity, his hands began to move. Starting at the hollow of his throat, he began to undo his buttons one by one. Bethany’s gaze was riveted, watching as more and more skin was revealed and cursing—all over again—the dark. When she took a breath, she startled herself with how loud it was.
His fingers paused at their current button, and she glanced at his face. He was staring at her with wide eyes. She was certain he wasn’t breathing. In her peripheral vision, she saw him resume unbuttoning his shirt, and now she was certain she wasn’t breathing.
God, had she ever wanted any man as much in her entire life as she wanted this mountain hermit? It made no sense; it was so intense, she didn’t know if she would survive it.
He finished unbuttoning his shirt, and hesitating only a moment, he sat up and shrugged it from his shoulders and dropped it to the ground.
It had taken maybe two seconds, but Bethany had caught plenty an eyeful of flickering muscles across his shoulders in the fireplace’s dim glow, and when he turned back to her, her mouth was dry. She swallowed hard in vain.
He lay down again slowly and then rotated to his side, mirroring her. The glowing embers from the fire highlighted a sheen of perspiration over the curve of his naked shoulder, and Bethany pressed her knees together.
“B-better?” she rasped.
He pulled in an extraordinarily loud breath. “Very much not,” he said in a rumble.
She fisted her hands to keep from reaching for him. “I know,” she whispered.
That was fantastic! You can read more by ordering your copy of Uncharted Waters now:
And you can find Micah on the web at: http://www.micahpersell.com/
Thanks so much for being here Micah!
All the best,
The big day has finally arrived and Book #3 in my Unconventional Brides Series:
THE BETTING VOW is here!
I’m so excited to share finally share the opposites attract, Married At First Night styled, love story of wildly sexy super model, Leila Darling and straight-laced television network executive Carter Bain with you all.
Leila Darling is past done with the supermodel thing, especially the mega-parties and high-profile flings that have done nothing but leave her alone and jaded. She’s got the talent to be a serious actress, but the industry sees her as a high-maintenance, impulsive party girl with a reputation for leaving men in the dust—especially TV producer Carter Bain.
Carter’s had his eye on Leila for years, so when a bet gives him a chance to get close to her, he accepts. With the goal of getting Leila the image makeover she needs and Carter the star he desires, the game is on. Get married and stay married for six months. If Leila lasts, she gets her pick of his A-list roles. If Carter wins, she’ll take the hot sidekick part he’s offered.
But as their “I do” turns up all kinds of heat, Leila and Carter find they have more in common than they ever imagined. Are these two prepared to put business aside and surrender the ultimate prize, their hearts?
Order your copy of THE BETTING VOW at your favorite retailer:
Balancing on the hood of a sports car while slickly oiled up was a lot harder than most people imagined. Add to that doing it one-handed, because you’re holding on to a fully loaded burger. Plus, you are in a bikini and are wearing six-inch stilettos. Well, then, you’ve got yourself a straight-up high-wire act.
Leila Darling tried her best to suck in her stomach, push out her behind, while simultaneously “making love” to the camera by puffing out her lips into a sultry, come-hither purse. She narrowed her eyes ever so slightly, as if extending a welcome invitation to wanton sex, while still appearing approachable with her version of the ever popular smize. Why it took this much sex to sell a hamburger still baffled her, but hers was not to reason why, since she was getting paid a small ransom to sit on the shiny car, be extra shiny herself, and make the Barn Burger the most lusted-after burger in fast-food history.
“Give me more. Give me more!” yelled Matteo, the famed photographer, fighting to be heard over the blaring bass of the heart-thumping rock music in the studio. If you could call the rented garage space in a rather sketchy part of East LA a studio. The tips of Matteo’s dark hair, what little he had left, were bleached and spiked so that they stood up at odd angles, and he wore an excessive amount of kohl around his eyes, making his deep bags, which revealed age, all the more pronounced.
“That’s right, Leila. Just like that. Oh, darling, you are selling it. Those eyes, those breasts . . . I’m getting hungry just watching you. You’re a sexual beast, darling!”
Leila pushed back a sneer at the way the word darling rolled off his tongue. Though it was her last name, in her case the word could be used as a proper noun, an adjective, or sadly, as of late, a verb. “Pulling a darling” was used for all sorts of things, and none of them good. Such as wild clubbing until the wee hours of the morning. Though, for the life of her, Leila didn’t understand what was wrong with blowing off a bit of steam, throwing fits on sets, since in Leila’s eyes, demanding respect was essential in her business. But worst, in her eyes, was that now— thanks to her ex, well, her third ex-fiancé, Miles G, and that crappy song of his, his hit “Darling Leila”—“pulling a darling” was synonymous with being a man-eater who used men, made them fall in love you, but never committed to them. Of course, it didn’t matter that in all her terminal relationships, it was the guys who’d failed her, making promises they ultimately had no intentions of keeping. Giving her perfectly valid reasons to bail on the so-called relationships.
So today, with Leila’s nerves already frayed, Matteo’s use of the word darling slid over Leila in a way that was too slimy and too personal and had her questioning his usage altogether. In the end, the sneer won out, and Leila went with it, her top lip curling as she looked at the photographer. Besides, the “sexual beast” comment had got to her, too. Especially now, when Leila considered herself in a career transition. She couldn’t just let a comment like that go unchecked.
Sure, she knew she should be happy and feel accomplished as one of the few African American top models in the business, though her current case of burger hood dwelling would bring a question to that. Still, most would think Leila had it all and was living on top, but in reality, she felt something was sorely lacking. Respect. Leila wanted so very much to be seen as something more than a sexy body that could sell anything, be it fast food or French couture.
Leila inwardly sighed as she recalled, while balancing herself precariously, one leg cocked up, the other pushing hard into the hood of the sports car, that a little over a month ago she’d been in Cannes, being celebrated as a breakout star in a less than breakout movie. Sure, she might have had only a few actual lines in the movie, and yes, she’d been brought on for her looks. However, she’d taken that part and run, showing she had chops, and for that she’d been rewarded for something besides the way she filled out a bikini top. Leila wanted more of that.
But here she was, back home and back to the same grind. Stand. Sit. Turn this way. Tilt that way. Was it any wonder she was on edge? Add to it the fact that taking an early flight back from Cannes had resulted in the demise of yet another high-profile relationship. Leila was officially done with her life as usual.
“Now take a bite. We want to see you eat it,” Matteo said, his voice piercing Leila’s musings and pinging her nerve endings with its raw excitement, so much so that Leila didn’t quite know if he was talking about the burger or something else that she didn’t want to touch.
Leila let out a low breath and went in for the burger, but then, as if on cue, the music in the studio changed and on came the familiar first thumps to the song Leila was fast growing to hate. “Darling Leila.” Would she ever escape Miles or that damned song?
“Oh yeah!” Matteo yelled, now smiling wide and circling her with his camera as he clicked, clicked around her. Each click of the shutter felt like a tiny prick to her skin.
Leila shot Matteo a death stare but then forced her features to soften as she glanced over to the side of the room and saw the group of execs from Burger Barn huddled in the corner, looking at her expectantly. Bills needed to be paid, and for that to happen, the customer was always right. Leila reminded herself of this tried-and-true mantra as she let out a sigh and softened her features again, going on automatic pilot as she mentally blocked out the song that mocked her and Miles’s now failed relationship and, worse, all her relationships before that. She took a hungry bite of the burger, imagining for a moment that it was the head of the photographer.
Method acting. Zone it out, woman. Use that anger.
Just then her agent and longtime friend, Jasper Weston, stepped into her side view as he went over to glad-hand the Burger Barn folks. Leila took another bite of the burger. This time it was Jasper’s head she was biting off, as she remembered it was he who had told her that taking this job would be a good idea.
“That’s it, Leila,” Matteo finally said. “Though, maybe next time you could go at it with just a little less enthusiasm?” He lowered his camera and turned toward his group of assistants. Leila noted that they were all young and all blond, whether male or female. It would seem Matteo had a type and stuck to it through and through.
“We’re going to need another burger on set,” he said to no one in particular before turning back to Leila. She hoped that the actual food handlers picked up on his query and that it wouldn’t be one of the Stepford blonds who handed her the next burger. “How about we get ready for the next set and wardrobe change, but before that we’ll do the rain sequence?”
Rain sequence? Since when was a rain sequence on the shoot list? Leila thought as she looked around for a rain machine. She saw none. It was then that another on set blond assistant came over and took the burger missing two bites from Leila’s hands and scurried off into the background. Then another young woman came toward her with a large hose and a dubious look in her eyes. Instantly, Leila stiffened.
“No way, honey,” Leila said with a sharp look at the young woman. “You come at me with that hose, you’d better be prepared to eat it.” It was as if the whole garage had got put on mute, as all heads swiveled Leila’s way. She saw Jasper smile uncomfortably at the Burger Barn people and take a step forward.
“Aw, come on now, Leila, darling,” Matteo began. “We need a shot with you wet on top of the car. You moving around for me. Doing a little dance. Selling those burgers as only you can.” And with that, the damned near geriatric photographer standing in front of her, holding his camera at his side, mimed his version of sexy dance moves, rubbing his hands over his body, bringing them up and, to Leila’s revulsion, licking his fingers.
Leila looked at him in horror and then blinked her way out of the shock of it all and leveled him with a hard glare. “Like I said, little Miss Assistant of the Corn here is not coming near me with some dirty-assed water hose. Now, if you want to try, you can, but I warn you, you won’t like where the hose ends up in the end.”
And with that, Leila slid her oiled body off the car as gracefully as she could and walked off set toward her makeshift dressing room, Jasper following quickly behind.
I hope you enjoyed this sneak peek: Get your copy of THE BETTING VOW today!
Thank you for your support
and I’m wishing you Joyful Reading!
(Me with my lovely author copies and trying to wrangle Jack in for a pic- He’s not happy or impressed.)
At RWA 17 When you wish…
I had the joy of spending the majority of last week in sunny, sometimes stormy, always humid, Orlando, Florida at the 2017 Romance Writers Of America National Conference. What a time it was! So much so, that I’m still exhausted an at a loss for words.
The conference was at the Disney Swan and Dolphin Hotels with workshop schedules jam packed with so many informative subjects it made making your hourly choices quite difficult. Thank goodness for recorded sessions. And the fact that the conference was held on Disney grounds also made, at least for me, a bit difficult to stay focused on the business at hand since the call of the amusement parks were quite loud and the 10-year-old in me was just itching to go out and play. I found myself watching they clock at times like I was back in elementary school watching for the recess bell.
That said, it was a great conference all in all. I got lots of writerly knowledge, while catching up with some of my very best friends, (thank you to all who supported diversity by wearing your #WeNeedDiverseRomanceTee shirts) and to top it all off I got to go out and play like a kid again.
Not to mention I was in the room when Ms. Beverly Jenkins received her Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award!
Now please check out my recap collages and see if you can spot some of your romance faves who were in Orlando at the conference too!
Some of the fab folks in this set: Katana Collins, Falhuni Kothari, Robin Lovett, Kate McMurry and come on me with over 17K steps. that is insane!
With our lovely Disney tour group! Thanks so much Deb! Marie Long, Dana Kaye, Joy of Joyfully Reviewed!
Shawntelle Madison, Creah Demps, Laurel Cremant , Sage Spelling & Aliza Mann, Pintip Dunn, Priscilla, Oliveras, Alyssa Cole, Adrienne Mishel, Farrah Rochon
Kate McMurry, Falguni Kothari, Sonali Dev, Alyssa day, Carolyn Jewel, Adrienne Mishel, Callie Hutton, Beth Yarnall, Faith Salle, Damon Suede, Alyssa Cole, Falguni Kothari, Synithia Williams, Kristan Higgins, Farrah Rochon & Lifetime Achievement Award Winner Beverly Jenkins!
Cheryl Etchison, Megan Frampton, The incomparable Ms. Brenda Jackson, Yarrah St. John & Synithia Williams, Beth Yarnall, Sofia Tate, Shelly Bell, Holley Trent, Tracey Livesay
Pricilla Oliveras, Sabrina Jefferies, Megan Frampton,
The fab women of The Ripped bodice Bea and Leah Koch.
Sally Kilpatrick, Heather McGovern, Sally Mackenzie, Dee Davis, Adrienne Mishelle and some of the rip roaring members of the RWA board, Nancy Holland, Fran of Frannie’s Romance, Joyfully Reviewed
Me, Jamie Wesley and Flaguni Kothari kicking up at Animal Kingdom. Adrienne Mishel,
Farrah Rochon, Mari Mancusi, Karen Lynn
Wishing you all… dreams coming true and may we all live like Farrah Rochon on a ride at Disney!
In anticipation of Book 3: THE BETTING VOW coming out at the end of the month.
Both Book 1: INSERT GROOM HERE:
And Book 2: TO ME I WED
Are on Sale for a limited time! Now’s the time to check them out if you haven’t already!
Thanks so much for your support!
So in my usual state of insomnia last night I was flipping channels and came across
The Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension.
A classic gem (and I use these term in the loosest possible sense) from 1984 which brings forth all sorts of questions:
Why was this on my cable TV – I mean I am paying through the nose for premium channels and this is what they come up with? Could we get a little more current Verizon?
What was John Lithgow doing this this thing? But it’s John and he’s been known to make, well, choices and we love him for it.
And lastly, why did I go and see this in the movies, like the actual theater, when it first came out? Was I that desperate for cinema in 1984? Uh… guess that’s a yes.
And the why clearly became apparent during my late-night re-watch. Some of the dudes in this cast were serious eye candy in 1984 and right up my alley:
The first, and seemingly most far fetched (for me), was Peter Weller, but not really though since his styling in this movie was all up and down the Adam Ant Alley which was just my 15 year old thing back then.
And then there was the supporting cast:
Jeff Goldblum as New Jersey, in the most unfortunate costume this side of Pee Wee’s playhouse, but still so very Jeff:
Strong and silent Clancy Brown as Rawhide:
And that gorgeous Lewis Smith as Perfect Tommy. Talk about perfect use of peroxide:
And finally can we talk about the glasses? IMO this movie did more for men in glasses than any other. Yas boys!
So tell me in the comments what were some of your fave 80’s and 90’s movie classics.
All the best,
Today on ye old blog we have an extra special treat and something that I hope can be a feature that continues with the hosting of other guests speaking on this topic.
First a bit of backstory – if you beta read for me, you know I love my backstory- that said, if you follow me on twitter @kwanawrites, you know that just about daily I tweet the #WeNeedDiverseRomance hashtag in honor of my late Nana and to bring awareness to the need for more equal representation for all, and in my specific case women romance writers of color on the bookshelves.
Well today’s guest, literary agent agent, Linda Camacho from The Prospect Agency, kindly reached out to me about the hashtag #WeNeedDiverseRomance and agreed to be on the blog today answering questions about herself, the industry, diversity and what she’s looking for.
Thank you so much for being with us today Linda!
First can you tell us a bit about your role as an agent at The Prospect Agency
I’m essentially my clients’ business manager, whereby I pitch my clients’ manuscripts to editors at publishing houses and try to get them the best deal possible. I not only handle domestic rights, but all other subsidiary rights (i.e., movie/TV, audio, translation, merchandising, etc.), so it can be quite a lot! I also provide editorial feedback to my clients, career guidance, and a shoulder to cry on. 🙂
Can we get a peek inside your #MSWL Manuscript Wish List? You represent a wide variety of works from middle grade through adult. Please tell us what you’re looking for in YA vs Adult right now?
I try not to limit myself, since it’s really sort of a “surprise me” answer. My tastes are pretty broad, so if in doubt, try me! I love literary stories, though I gravitate more toward higher concept genre fiction, like sci-fi, fantasy, horror, and romance. Scrolling through my recent #MSWL entries, I see some of my call-outs have been for YA fantasy, western, or pirate adventure; for MG, creepy tales, tear-jerkers; for adult, women’s fiction and romance–How I want some adult romance (I’m burning through all of Sarah MacLean’s books and am all about romance these days)! I could use a steamy contemporary or historical romance that turns tropes on their ear (bonus points if they have people of color starring in them, à la Alyssa Cole’s An Extraordinary Union).
Where do you see trends going forward in the next year or two in the industry in romance?
There’s been an uptick in historical romance acquisition, which thrills me, since historical romance is my first love. For awhile, editors weren’t really buying much historical, but now with contemporary romance hitting a bit of a saturation point, editors are becoming more open to it. I’m seeing a touch more paranormal as well—not a whole lot, but I’m seeing some shapeshifter stories, so I’m curious to see if paranormal becomes more sought after as well. Lastly, I’m seeing more #ownvoices writers being published within these sub-genres and I hope those numbers continue to climb.
On your twitter profile you proclaim yourself as a “proud Latina” that said what do the hashtag #WeNeedDiverseRomance and #WeNeedDiverseBooks books mean to you as a reader and consumer in the industry.
I cut my teeth on romance when I was a young teen and, honestly, I didn’t realize how unrepresented I was in stories until I found my first Caridad Piñeiro novel. That was when I saw what I’d been missing, really seeing myself in a romance novel. It’s an amazing feeling to see more representation today. I marvel at it.
Now as an agent and an influencer behind the scenes, how do you feel about the state of diversity and inclusiveness in the industry?
Do we have time for this question? I think we need to have a lunch or ten to really talk about it! While I’m over the moon at seeing more diversity, we are still incredibly behind. We have far to go, twofold, between the writers themselves and the folks who work in publishing. I’m seeing more diverse, #ownvoices writers being published, which is heartening. The ones I’m hoping will emulate that increase are my colleagues on the industry side. With a rise in diverse books and writers, we need more diverse editors, agents, book buyers, librarians, etc., to help keep the rise in diverse authorship going in the right direction. Sadly, that’s not really talked about. My agency, for instance, is a boutique one standing at six women, half of whom are people of color. So when I see other agencies, especially the big ones who are known for actively seeking diverse writers, who don’t have diverse people on staff? I have questions. The same goes for imprints that are famous for publishing diverse voices and are succeeding monetarily, when I don’t see diverse staff? I have issues. Because while the hiring managers may not actively be refusing to hire diverse people, they are not making the effort to reach outside their networks when filling open positions. That sort of complacence with the status quo is damaging to the #WeNeedDiverseBooks and #WeNeedDiverseRomance conversation. What it reads to me is that they’re happy to profit off of diverse writers, but don’t really concern themselves about working with diverse colleagues. I urge writers to challenge that and to support diverse staffing as well as diverse writers. We’re out there in the trenches, too, and it can be tough to keep going. Yet if we all band together, between us AND our allies, we can really do something here.
How do you feel you can help move diversity forward from where you’re working because of course hashtags alone won’t work?
I’m part of a POC in Publishing group where we’re strategizing the best ways of doing that, actually. If you’re working on the industry side, please hire diverse staff. If you’re a writer, buy diverse books, first and foremost, since sales figures do the real talking if we want to see more of those stories out in the world.
How do you feel about the recent changes at Harlequin with the closing of the Kimani line? Do you think it will ultimately be good for diversity in the industry?
It’s so sad to hear about closing of the announced lines–Kimani, in particular. I’m nervous about what’s going to happen to the writers of color. I don’t believe it’s a good move for diversity at this stage. I do like the idea of having those authors be integrated into the other lines, but the fear is that even with that sort of scenario, Harlequin is likely going to take on fewer writers of color because there simply won’t be room to acquire the same amount of authors that Kimani published by itself. I don’t know what happened behind the scenes, but if we’re operating on the assumption that Kimani wasn’t pulling in the best sales figures, then what incentive does Harlequin have to ensure that more writers of color get published? Publishing is a business, so regardless of why the books aren’t doing well, low numbers will be a barrier. If that’s the case, even the most passionate editors are going to have a harder time proving to the acquisitions board that those stories yield a profit.
Lastly, are you open to queries right now and what’s the best way for writers to query you if you are?
I’m definitely open to queries! We have an electronic submission form at www.prospectagency.com.
Thank you so much for sharing your time and insights. We are so grateful to have had you here!
All the best,
What a week I had last week at the RT Booklover’s Convention in Atlanta Georgia. I’m sure I can’t properly express what a joy it was to see so many of my old friends in the writer community and making so many new ones. Not to mention (but, totally to mention) I was over the moon about meeting, up close and in person so many readers. There are no readers like romance readers! They are the very best! And I’m proud to include myself in that mix. I’m such a fangirl that’s it’s hard to play it cool and not get all swoony when you’re in the presence of the likes of greats like Beverly Jenkins and Brenda Jackson.
A few of the fab friends in these pics. If I fail to mention you I apologize in advance. Blame it on the after con brain fog I’m still under:
Me and the Dear DH at the Atl aquarium, Aliza Mann, Our big Romance Jeopardy Winner, Lovely family from Atl, me at the Kensington signing, a sea dragon!, Me with the incomparable Beverly Jenkins, sea turtle, players at Romance Jeopardy
I also had a knee slapping good time in the workshop I had the honor or participating in called Romance Jeopardy. Thanks to the other workshop presenters: Shelly Bell, Isabelle Drake, Aliza Mann, M.K. Schiller, Sienna Snow and Sage Spelling all went well and we had the best time posing Jeopardy style romance questions to a room full of enthusiastic readers. Another fun part of this was my dear DH joined me in Atlanta and got to sit in the back during our game/workshop. He was impressed and amazed at the knowledge of readers when it came to the stories they loved. He left vowing to read more fiction which I can so get behind.
I can’t let this post go without saying what a dream come true it was having my first signing with my publisher Kensington books. It was so much fun and the Kensington team showed themselves to be as gracious and wonderful as I has come to know them to be. An extra special thanks to Jane, Vida, Tara and Esi for making me feel like one of the family and to all the amazing readers and my crew, the Destin Divas who came to my table and for the hour had me feeling like the belle of the ball!
Robin Bradford, Alyssa Cole, Reese Ryan, Zuri Day and her new fiance!, Tiffany Warren, Latoya Smith, Iris Bolling, The amazing ladies of RT Book Reviews, Sheryl Lister, Janice Maynard, Ursula Renee, Leslie Penelope, Laquette, Brenda Jackson, Jacqueline aka @fangirl_musing, The super Midnight Ace and Kelly!
Also an extra thank you to all who showed up and showed out by wearing their #WeNeedDiverseRomance tee shirts. It gave me such a good feeling to see the call for more diversity in the industry represented at the convention.
This RT was truly a hit. Even tornado warnings during a Scandal Tweet In with Sofia Tate could not dampen spirits.
Thank you to the Romantic Times team for a super con that I won’t soon forget. Big hugs to Tere Michaels, who somehow was everyplace all at once. I’m thinking she has 2 clones somewhere, but maybe I watch too much Orphan Black. I dunno.
Meanwhile, enjoy the rest of my collage of pics and see if you can spot some of your favorite folks!
Alisha Rai, Readers Kay and Lynn, Beverly Jenkins, Unicorn Slippers!, Megan Frampton, Ursula Renee, Tara Gavin, Pintip Dunn, Cynthia, Iris Bowling and Midnight Ace, me and the fab Lorel, Carolyn Hector, Pintip Dunn, Sofia Tate, Jane Nutter
Aliza Mann and Sage Spelling, Lena Hart, Lasheera, Leslie Frohberg Kaia Danielle, Carla Fredd, Alisha Rai, Sage Spelling, Aliza Manna, M.K. Schiller, Shelly Bell, Sienna Snow, Kelly, Felishia, Dina, Alyssa
Me & the DH, M.K. Schiller, Ursula Renee, Joyfully Reviewed, Sherelle Green, Kate McMurry, Frannie’s Romance, Sarah Wendell, Blue Saffire
Till next year. Happy reading!
All the best,
Who says dreams don’t come true?
I’m happy to say that today another one of just mine did. To Me I Wed, Book 2 in my Unconventional Brides Romance series is out now from Kensington Books. I’m so proud to bring the unconventional love story of Lily, the accomplished event planner, and Vin, the bad boy chef, to people. I hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. This story was a true labor of love and with it I left a lot of my heart on the page.
You can pick up your copy of To Me I Wed where ever books are sold or as any of these e-tailers:
and also enter this month’s $25. gift card giveaway!
Thanks to all of you for your continued support. It means the world to me.
All the best,
Thanks for being here and take it away Jamie!
The Family We Find
By Jamie Brenner
Last year my lifelong friend confided that something major was going on in her life. She had recently taken one of those at-home DNA tests, and was then contacted by someone also using the same testing company. My friend and this woman shared such a close DNA match, they had to be half sisters! Needless to say, this opened up a lot of questions — how had this happened? While my friend searched for answers, the writer in me created my own. And I had the starting point for The Forever Summer.
There’s probably no greater, more universal question than, who am I? Ten years ago, we could simply look at our parents and grandparents and that was enough of an answer. The idea of delving into family research was usually the domain of adoptees that couldn’t simply look at their immediate family. But now, in the era of ancestry.com and 23 and Me and shows like “Who Do You Think You Are,” ancestry research is the second biggest hobby in the U.S. following only gardening. And while it’s interesting and fun, there’s a percentage of people who get results they are not expecting, and in some cases, not prepared to deal with and as a result, have to reconsider what it means to be family. The complexity and joy of the discovered family is at the heart of The Forever Summer.
The Forever Summer begins with a surprise that brings three generations of women together. When two young women living on opposite sides of the country discover they are half sisters, they go on a road trip to meet the grandmother they never knew they had. One sister is thrilled by this development, the other is devastated; her mother has been exposed for keeping a very big secret. As for the grandmother, she is a woman who has suffered a lot of loss, and she had thought her days of having a house filled with family were long behind her. And then two young woman show up on her doorstep.
A big question for me was where this grandmother lived. What place could possibly facilitate the emotional journey these characters must go on? The answer came last spring when the CBS Sunday Morning show aired a piece about Provincetown Massachusetts.
Provincetown is past Cape Cod, the very tip of Massachusetts. It’s 3 miles long and two streets wide and framed by water on two sides. It’s remote and beautiful and has two big claims to fame: It’s the place where the Pilgrims landed before Plymouth, and it’s also one of America’s oldest arts colonies. Legends have lived and worked there: Jack Keroac, Eugene O’Neill, Tennessee Williams, Jackson Pollock and Milton Avery.
A more recent great artist, author Michael Cunningham, has lived and worked there for thirty years. He was interviewed on the CBS Morning show segment, and he called Provincetown “an eccentric’s sanctuary.” He said it’s one of the very few places he knows of that “prefers peculiarity.” That’s when I started thinking — this might be the place I’ve been looking for. A place where my characters could not only come to terms with their unconventional family, but embrace it.
Another piece of the puzzle fell into place when I visited Provincetown for research: walking around the wharf, I saw giant black and white photos on the sides of buildings. They were of older women, women who looked serious and weathered and from another era. It was an art installation called “They Also Faced the Sea,” about the matriarchs of the Portuguese fishing families who were, for many generations, the backbone of Provincetown. So of course the grandmother in The Forever Summer had to be Portuguese, and she passes this rich Portuguese to her two granddaughters.
Still, I needed something that would bring the two sisters in my story together. It’s one thing to be related to someone. It’s another to relate to them. Provincetown again provided the answer: art. Art was everywhere I looked; even the signs outside of restaurants and shops are mosaics made from bright tiles and colorful stones and sea glass. I decided that mosaics would play a part in helping the new sisters bond. With a mosaic, , there a lot of different bits and pieces, some that clearly fit together, others not so obviously — but in the end, all coming together to create one beautiful, colorful whole. Just like a family.
I hope The Forever Summer brings home the idea that our families might be messy, complicated, even not what we expected. But at the end of the day it is the most important thing we have if we can just let go and embrace it.
Pre-order The Forever Summer here now
Jamie Brenner’s latest novel is The Forever Summer (Little, Brown). She is also the author of The Wedding Sister published by St. Martin’s Press ( a Target Emerging Author pick and one of Popsugars Best Books for Women 2016) and the historical The Gin Lovers (St. Martin’s Press), named by Fresh Fiction as one of the Top Thirteen Books to read in 2013. She lives in New York City with her husband and two teenage daughters.
Check out Jamie on the web:
Jamie Brenner will be on tour!
Tuesday, April 25th, 7:00 p.m.:
Barnes & Noble, Upper East Side
In conversation with Cristina Alger (author of This Was Not The Plan)
(150 E 86th St., New York, NY)
Wednesday, April 26th, 7:00 p.m.:
Barnes and Noble, Cherry Hill
(911 Haddonfield Road, Cherry Hill, NJ)
Thursday, April 27th, 7:00 p.m.:
WORD, Brooklyn (126 Franklin Street, Brooklyn, NY, 11222)
Saturday, April 29th, 11:30a.m.:
Turn of the Corkscrew Books and Wine,
Celebration for Independent Bookstore Day!
(110 N Park Ave, Rockville Centre, NY, 11570)
Tuesday, May 2nd, 6:00 p.m.:
Savoy Bookshop and Café (10 Canal Street, Westerly, RI, 02891)
Tuesday, May 9th at 6:30 p.m.:
Ferguson Library (1 Public Library Plaza, Stamford, CT 06901)
Tuesday, May 16th at 7:30 p.m.:
Point Street Reading Series (Point Street Dueling Pianos, 3 Davol Square, Providence, RI, 02903)
Wednesday, 5/31 at 7:00 p.m.:
Summer Reads Panel
Turn of the Corkscrew Books and Wine
(110 N Park Ave, Rockville Centre, NY, 11570)
Saturday, June 3rd
BookCon, Details TK (Javits Center, 655 W 34th St, New York, NY 10001)
Thursday, June 8th at 6:30 p.m.:
Drinks and Discussion at Booktowne (171 Main Street, Manasquan, NJ, 08736)