Tag Archives: #WeNeedDiverseRomance

Have you Met Nicole—I mean Nora? Interview with Nicole Blades

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!).

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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:

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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?:

 

Chapter 1

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?”

“A little.”

“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.”

 

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You can pick up your copy of HAVE YOU MET NORA?

Here: Amazon

And Follow Nicole on line at NicoleBlades.com to stay up on her latest happenings!

Thanks so much for being with us Nicole!

 

Best,

KMJ

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Time to Place Your Bets: The Betting Vow Is Here from K.M. Jackson

The big day has finally arrived and Book #3 in my Unconventional Brides Series:

THE BETTING VOW is here!

Canva In Love You Always Play to Win!The Betting VowOut NowfmK.M. Jackson (1)

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:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2izySdL

Nook: http://bit.ly/2ghcTaM

iBooks: http://apple.co/2rOqKqp

Kobo:  http://bit.ly/2qN8NKs

 

Betting Vow Cover finalAnd now here is a sneak peek from Chapter One of THE BETTING VOW:

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 bookmark-2inx8in-h-frontof 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!

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2izySdL

Nook: http://bit.ly/2ghcTaM

iBooks: http://apple.co/2rOqKqp

Kobo:  http://bit.ly/2qN8NKs

Thank you for your support

and I’m wishing you Joyful Reading!

Betting d

(Me with my lovely author copies and trying to wrangle Jack in for a pic- He’s not happy or impressed.)

KMJ

#WeNeedDiverseRomance

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Speak on it- Meet the Agent with Linda Camacho #WeNeedDiverseRomance

   Talking Diversity

 

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.

Linda ComachoProspect Agency Profile Pic

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,

KMJ

 

 

 

 

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The Wedding Day Is Here! It’s To Me I Wed’s Release Day

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.

To Me I Wed Ack Nana

You can pick up your copy of To Me I Wed where ever books are sold or as any of these e-tailers:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2krfm26
Barnes and Noble: 
http://bit.ly/2nr6hFs
iBooks: 
http://apple.co/2ojumlK
Kobo: 
http://bit.ly/2mVZGa2

And please head over to Tia Kelly’s, Tia with a Pen’s blog here to get an exclusive To Me I Wed excerpt and please subscribe to my newsletter  – to be in the know about my monthly giveaway-

and also enter this month’s $25. gift card giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks to all of you for your continued support. It means the world to me.

 

All the best,

KMJ

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Bright spots and Deal News!!

Hello peeps! I’m so sorry it’s been a minute since I’ve been here, but I’ve been a busy bee as you will soon see and I’m wishing you all well and hoping for Spring to bring us warmer weather and sunshine soon (I say this as I look out my window at falling snow, yet again, and take antibiotics fighting off an ear infection).

Yeah I’m over Winter.

All that said, there are some bright spots. I have some fantastic deal news that I can finally share. I’m so thrilled to say my lovely and fearless editor at Kensington Books is taking me on for two more novels in a brand new fish out of water small town series! The series will be the SUGAR LAKE series and the first book is tentatively titled:

As Good As The First Time (release date to come- see the pic of the deal announcement below).

Sugar Lake Deal news

And if you follow me here or on other forms of social media (twitter @kwanawrites or Facebook )  you’ll know I had an article in a local paper which I have come to find was shared with another local paper and, funny how these things go, was seen by Jack’s vet. Well yesterday I nearly broke out in tears when I got this sweet note from Jack’s vet office. I tell you people can be so kind and generous at times. And I’m so grateful for that. Talk about a proud moment of being a fur baby’s mama!

good news scarsdale and deal

Kwana and Jack 3

Thanks for hanging with me and all the support. You don’t know how much it means to me. Or maybe you do.

I think you might. Once again I hope all is well where you are.

Sending wishes of Lovely Reading!

 

All the best,

KMJ

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Insert Groom Is Finally Here! #WeNeedDiverseRomance

Today is one of those days where the life I’m living feels quite unlikely. A woman like me starts to think and reverts back to the girl I was growing up in Harlem and Washington Heights. Back then I spent almost as much time on the ‘A’ train as I did off of it as I commuted back and forth to school. In those days I always had my nose in a book and if a book wasn’t to be had I would erase my surroundings and retreat to the way back of my imagination and come up with a story of my very own. On the train there were plenty of characters for story fodder.

Well today a story of my very own is out and released into the world in a way that is almost beyond my dreams.

insert-groom-fb-igh-fb-ad-5

INSERT GROOM HERE is my first single title and the first in my Unconventional Brides Series and here is the kicker, this book being release from Kensington publishing is the first for me that will be out in book stores and retail outlets and holy crackers there are even some libraries that will carry it! The thought of it overwhelms me. The thought that there may be another girl out there growing up somewhere like I did, who at a certain point may desperately need an escape from her everyday life on the commuter train or a home life which is not the fairy-tale her mask pretends it to be. The fact that she may find that escape in one of my books that she happens upon with a heroine that happens to look like her makes me so very happy.

I am grateful to God to have made it to this point in my career and know I have so much further to go, both in my writing and in helping to make more of these types of stories more equally accessible to the public.

Sidebar: #WeNeedDiverseRomance

But for now, today, I know day dreaming is not for nothing. Dreaming combined with work can lead to a moment of fulfillment greater than I ever imagined.

 

And now for the pluggy part about my book:

INSERT GROOM HERE Book #1 the  
Unconventional Brides Series

 
Eva Ward has won a lavish wedding on the nation’s hottest morning show and can’t wait to kick off her
happily-ever-after in style. Too bad her fiancé backs out on-air—and cameraman Aidan Walker makes sure her private meltdown goes viral, down to the last couch-kicking moment. The only way Eva can save face and keep her perfect nuptial plans on track is to star in a new “find-a-groom” reality segment. But finding Mr. Right in one month means ignoring her handsome new producer—none other than Aidan himself—and getting their instant, exasperating attraction out of her system…

Eva soon finds there’s a lot more to Aidan than freewheeling charm. But one glimpse of his caring side can’t make up for off-camera politics, Aidan’s own secrets—or Eva’s fear that they’re too different to ever trust each other. So it’s time for her to flip this script, write twists no one will see coming—and risk her heart to get the real thing…

Be one of the first to be introduced to the 
Unconventional Brides and grab your copy today where ever books are sold !  

Kensington: http://bit.ly/2eh61Vb
Amazon: http://amzn.to/28Mbqk3
iBooks: http://apple.co/28RPaWU
Barnes and Noble:  http://bit.ly/2gwFuas
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2g8Fhtp

 

And a bonus: please subscribe to my mailing list on the right and click below to enter this month’s giveaway!

Hint: it’s FIRE! (Kindle Fire)

http://gvwy.io/wbjmjcd

All the best,

KMJ

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Burning Bright with author Stacey Agdern

Tis the season and timing could not be more perfect for today’s author interview. I’m so excited to have my friend the super talented Stacey Agdern on ye old blog today to talk about her contribution to BURNING BRIGHT the new Chanukah Anthology out from Avon Impulse.

Thanks so much for being here today Stacey!

Thank you so much for having me. It means a great deal *hug*

Stacey Burning Bright Cover

First off can you tell us a bit about BURNING BRIGHT? How did this anthology come together?

I pitched a single title Chanukah story to an editor at a luncheon hosted by one of the two RWA chapters I belong to (waves to LIRW). Two months later, I was sitting with Tessa Woodward, hashing out how the anthology would work.  Chanukah. Jewish Characters. Jewish authors. An introduction by Sarah Wendell, and we were off to the races. I recruited Megan, Jennifer and KK , sobbing all over each of them with excitement and pride.  I couldn’t believe this was happening.  Neither could they (they also probably wanted me to stop crying;).

They came up with some really cool stuff, no? 

Blurb:

This December, take a break from dreidel spinning, gelt winning, and latke eating to experience the joy of Chanukah. When you fall in love during the Festival of Lights, the world burns a whole lot brighter.

It’s definitely not love at first sight for Amanda and her cute but mysterious new neighbor, Ben. Can a Chanukah miracle show them that getting off on the wrong foot doesn’t mean they can’t walk the same road?

Lawyers in love, Shari Cohen and Evan Sonntag are happy together. But in a moment of doubt, he pushes her away—then soon realizes he made a huge mistake. To win her back, it might take something like a Chanukah miracle.

When impulsive interior designer Molly Baker-Stein barges into Jon Adelman’s apartment and his life intent on planning the best Chanukah party their building has ever seen, neither expects that together they just might discover a Home for Chanukah.

All Tamar expected from her Israel vacation was time to hang out with one of her besties and to act like a tourist, cheesy t-shirt and all, in her two favorite cities. She definitely was not expecting to fall for Avi, a handsome soldier who’s more than she ever dreamed

 

What inspired you to write your story?

Three different elements-two happy and one sad.  An anthology that never came to pass about characters celebrating thanksgiving in a New York apartment building (thank you Tamsin!), a Chanukah party that is becoming one of my favorite annual traditions( Latkepalooza)  and the death of my great aunt Bernice.  Mix them together with a bit of amazing New York food, and you have ‘A Home for Chanukah’.

This year especially diversity his caught on as a big word in romance and you have been a champion for more diversity in the genre. Tell us why is it so important to you and what does the word mean to you?

Diversity, to me, means a romance genre that reflects the world we live in.  Books telling the stories where the characters (and authors)  are of all races, sexualities and faiths.  Where readers can see themselves in the lead roles and not just in the secondary characters we hope (and pray) will eventually get their own books.

It’s important to me for many reasons, but the most relevant for this piece is the following : I want to live in a world where a character’s Judaism doesn’t disqualify them from having a leading role in a romance novel and an on the page romance.  I want there to be the possibility that the word ‘inspirational’ doesn’t mean Christian.  I don’t want someone else writing an article about Jewish characters in leading roles in romance novels to have to struggle, like I did, to find 8.

Also, can I say how lucky the romance community is to have you, Kwana?  You lay the groundwork for a diversity conversation that is genuinely inclusive of all types of diversity, whether it is based on race, sexuality or faith.  That is a priceless gift.

You are so kind to say that. Thank you and thank you once again for it and all you do.

 

 

Tell us a bit about your writing schedule. Are you a Plotter or a Pantser?

Mostly a pantser.  When I start to write I need: 1.my general direction 2.a bit of knowledge about my characters. 3. The beginnings of my playlist.  I don’t write in order either.  I’ll write a bunch of scenes, and when I get to the point where I feel I have a story, I’ll start putting everything in order and filling in the missing pieces.  I’m also not wedded to the beginning sequences; if I get to the point where one of the early scenes I’ve written is supposed to fit, but doesn’t, I’ve got no problem cutting it.

I’ll plot only when I get stuck, but only the barest minimum.  If I plot too much, I get stuck  Interesting fact : even if I write a synopsis before I write the book, I need to force myself to forget I’ve done this and proceed as usual.

 

 What advice would you give other aspiring writers?

Pay attention to the market but write your stories.  Keep your eyes open and take the opportunities that come your way.  If you have a local rwa chapter, join.  And READ. Always.

 

Do you mind sharing with our nosy readers (ok me) what you are working on next?

I’m working on a few different things, one of which is a hockey romance.  “Icing the Puck’ comes out in April (no date yet) and it’s the second anthology of stories about the New York Empires hockey team.   My story in ‘Icing the Puck’ features a hockey playing renchman, a violin playing heroine, tutoring sessions that slowly become more, interesting family secrets and 4/5 New York City boroughs during the holidays 😉

Sounds fantastic! Thank you for sharing.

 

And now here’s a short excerpt from ‘A Home for Hanukkah that makes a bit of a reference to my fictional hockey team.  I love putting bits of afikomen-what most people call easter egg-references to other things. 

She had more ideas in mind, but this was going to be his place when he got around to it, his idea. Which meant she had one more question to ask him. “Any colors?”

This was the one that seemed to catch him off guard. He shrugged his shoulders, then settled back in. “Don’t know,” he finally said, trailing off as he looked around the room. “Maybe blue, white. I’m an Empires fan.”

“Empires?”

“New York Empires. Semenov, Emerson, that new guy, they call him lucky seven?”

She tried to look interested, tried to muster a degree of understanding, at least.

“Hockey?”

She shook her head. “No …”

He raised an eyebrow, as if to say that of everything they’d talked about, this was the thing he was most surprised about. “You’re not interested at all?”

She shook her head. “Sorry. Not really.”

 

Interesting *fun* fact?  The hero of my story in Icing the Puck?  Lucky seven, of course 😉

Thanks so much for being here today. It’s been a real pleasure.

Stacey author photo

 

You can find Stacey at these locals on line:  

@nystacey on twitter

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/staceyaagdern 

 

And her pick up Burning Bright here:

 Amazon: 

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0062464841

Barnes & Noble:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/burning-bright-megan-hart/1122749513?ean=9780062464859

All the best,

KMJ

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Calling Her Bluff… Interview with author Kaia Danielle

 

Today on ye old blog we have and interview with a fantastic new author Kaia Danielle here to talk, writing, life and her exciting debut with Entangled Publishing: CALLING HER BLUFF.

Hi Kaia, thanks so much for being here on ye old blog today!

KMJ: First off, Kaia can you tell us a bit about CALLING HER BLUFF?

Kaia cover Calling Her Bluff

Kaia: Romance author Kamaria Wilson returns to Las Vegas to prove she has kicked her gambling addiction to the curb. But the temptation to play poker again is stronger than ever. Why does Mr. Perfect have to show up now?!

KMJ: That sounds fantastic. I love Vegas and have spent a night or two at the Blackjack tables.  What inspired you to write this story?

Kaia: My publisher put out a call for stories set during a romance readers’ convention in Las Vegas. I thought this was the perfect scenario to craft something unique. Once I came up with the premise of a gambling addict heroine, a casino security hero and a one-night stand, I just had to write this story.

KMJ: Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

Kaia: Um, probably but accepting the fact that I could craft a story that anyone else would want to read was a journey. I had a few years of combatting “Who do you think you are? Zora wrote Their Eyes Were Watching God in 6 weeks. You have no business trying”-type inner dialogue.

KMJ: Do you feel your works are more character or plot driven?

Kaia: Plot driven. I usually figure out the scenario first then get introduced to the characters during the pre-planning and first draft.

KMJ: What made you choose this genre to write in?

Kaia: I’m a total romantic comedy movie junkie. I bow down to Nora Ephron’s work. The funny thing is that I set out to write historical romance. But, contemporary romantic comedy comes to me easier. The smartass voice you find in the book is the real me. Just check my Twitter feed.

KMJ: What characteristics are essential in a hero for you? And how about a heroine?
Kaia: Hero: I have to fall in love with him some way, somehow. It is usually the grand gesture that reels me in. I’m still crushing so hard on my hero Jack Alderisi in Calling Her Bluff. Ironically, it wasn’t his grand gesture that hooked me. It was the little every day considerate things he did leading up to his big grand gesture.

Heroine: She has to have a life outside of hunting for a man. I love when a heroine has to deal with real life “stuff”. My favorite line from Kamaria in Calling Her Bluff is when she says something like “I don’t want you to fix it for me. I’m the one who fell off the wagon, now let me figure out how to get back on it.”

 

KMJ: Getting a little more serious, you have been a strong voice and advocate for more diversity in romance. Can you share with the readers why you feel this is such an important issue for this time?
Kaia: I grew up in a town where at least 66 different languages were spoken at home. My best friend growing up was of Swiss French-Gabonese descent. I attended a college where the African-American female experience was infused into each course. Diversity is my “normal”.  The mix I’ve seen promoted in the Romance world hasn’t been “normal” until very recently. I’d like to do what I can to fix that. Besides, there’s a whole group of open-minded, voracious readers who are missing out on a bunch of great stories due to lack of exposure.

 

KMJ: Thanks so much. Now would you care to share the story of your “overnight” success with my readers?

Kaia: My overnight success started 13 years ago when I started attempting to write short stories for the confession magazine market. (Remember True Confessions, Bronze Thrills and Black Romance magazines? Some of those were me!) It took me a year to finish my first story. It was the second one I sold.

 

KMJ: I do remember and loved Confessions. Thank you!  Who are some of your favorite writers that have influenced you?

Kaia: Zora Neal Hurston, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Beverly Jenkins, Francis Ray, Gwyneth Bolton, Tina McElroy Ansa, Terry McMillan, LA Banks, Alice Walker, Audre Lorde

 

KMJ: Now please dish what book (s) is/are currently on your nightstand or e-reader?

Kaia:
Ivy’s League by Nia Forester
Passing Love by Jacqueline E. Luckett
A Treasure of Gold by Piper Huguley
Bricktop’s Paris by T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting

 

KMJ: What advice would you give other aspiring writers? Butt in chair. Fingers on keyboard. Eyes on prize. I wrote Calling Her Bluff while working 60 hour weeks, being the primary caretaker for my mother, maintaining a long distance relationship, moving my mother and myself across the state with exactly 2 weeks-notice (during the 60 hour work weeks) and a snowstorm at our heels. (Wait, how the hell did I manage to all that? Oh yeah, sangria.) I decided no more BS, no more excuses when I started this story. Even it was only for a half hour on some days, I still got some words in.

KMJ: Lastly, what can readers expect next from you?

I’m working on an adult contemporary romance set during homecoming week at a fictional HBCU (Historically Black College/University). Remember that guy in college who was “just a friend” but there was always a special connection and everybody assumed that you were together, but nothing ever happened between you guys? Yeah well, play time is over.

 

Now Kaia is kind enough to share an excerpt from CALLING HER BLUFF:

Shame kept her locked in place, eyes down, trembling hands locked between her knees. She stared at the backs of her fingers, fighting that itch to touch her chips, the cards, to rub the felt of the poker table. Dammit, this wasn’t supposed to happen.

“Ma’am.” The voice was softer now.

“I didn’t do anything wrong.” The words were meant to convince herself. There might be a pile of chips in front of her, but she felt like a loser. Again.

“No one said you did.” The man’s hand now found its way between her shoulder blades. The warmth of his hand flooded into her. His warmth felt safe. Just like the guy from last night. She shook him off again. The last thing she needed was to be thinking about Jack. Or how she should’ve stayed in his bed. If she hadn’t run from him, she wouldn’t be here now.

His voice was too smooth. Too practiced. Too, too familiar. Kamaria didn’t like that either. She didn’t even want the money. No amount of winnings could compensate for what she’d just lost by sitting down at this table. And talk? What could he possibly want to discuss? “I’ve got nothing to say to you. I was just leaving anyway.”

The pressure on her back returned, this time more insistent. “That’s where you’re wrong, Kamaria. I think you have plenty to say to me.”

She could tell by his emphasis on her name that he was going to kick her out. She’d ruined her sobriety, and now she’d messed up the conference too! She felt tears rim her bottom lashes. She willed herself to keep her chin up as she stood. This was no way to start her week at the convention. She had managed to stay away for so long. She hadn’t even been in town sixteen hours and had already crumbled in the face of weakness more than once. All the promises she made to Chastity—to herself—about being able to avoid the casino evaporated into nothing. She should have never come back here.

The rent-a-cop’s hand had now moved from her back to her arm. His grip tightened slightly, pulling her to her feet.

Her stomach fell to her knees the moment the security jerk stood up so she could finally get a good look at him. The big, big body. The impossibly wide chest. Those full lips. Kamaria groaned. “Oh no, not you.”

Kaia: Thanks so much for being here today. It’s been a real pleasure.

KMJ: Thank you the pleasure was all mine!

KMJ: You can find Kaia here on the web:

Kaia headshot

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kaia.danielle.1

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kaiawrites

Excerpt + buy links: http://www.entangledpublishing.com/calling-her-bluff/

 

All the best,

KMJ

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RW… hey, hey, hey! My time at #RWA15 in pics

This post is late in coming and I apologize for that, but here it is.  Last week most, well many in the romance community, convened at the Marriot in Times Square for the annual Romance Writers of America National Conference. A fun and enlightening time was had by all, ok I’ll say most because what do I know? What I do know and can say is that I had a good time, though it was quite the whirlwind.

I’d love to know how is it a day could speed by so fast?

I want to thank so many for their amazing support of #WeNeedDiverseRomance by wearing their Tee Shirts on conference Thursday. Seeing so many Diverse Romance tees around the conference was just amazing and I do think made quite a bold statement that those in the gate keeper positions could not ignore (I do believe I heard some keys rattling).

Also I’d like to give thanks to all who came to the multicultural workshop I participated in on Thursday with Alyssa Cole, Lena Hart and Falguni Kothari. Your support was priceless and so appreciated.

I was also so happy to attend the other workshops held on diversity this year. As a longtime member of RWA I feel there was a much more open and truthful vibe to the conference dialogue this year all around when it came to diversity, self -publishing and the state of the industry. The dialogue, for the most part, was well received and for the parts that were not, let’s just say, they needed to be said.  I’m so happy to hear that RWA will now be forming a special committee on diversity so this will not just be a one year buzz hashtag type of thing.

Thank you all so much once again for helping make this happen. Please keep up your support by continuing to voice your opinions and get the word out about the need for more diversity in romance and all genres of publishing. #WeNeedDiverseRomance

Now onto the pics…

So many beautiful faces! Can you spot some of your faves?

RWA Collage 3

 

Lauren Dane, Members or RWA/NYC, Flappers at Passionate Ink party,  Me & the fab Nora Roberts, Holley Trent, Vanessa Peters, Falguni Kothari, Trent Hart, Elizabeth Mahon, Jenn Le Blanc, Trent Hart, Falguni  Kothari, Carolyn Jewel & Carolyn Crane,  Vanessa Riley, Jamie Wesley, Farrah Rochon, Synithia Williams, Tracey Livesay,  Alyssa Cole, Laura K. Curtis, Megan Frampton

 

RWA Collage 2

 

Sugar Jamison, Kianna Alexander, Ginger Merante, Falguni Kothari, Kianna Alexander, Farrah Rochon, Rebekah Weatherspoon, Adrienne Trent, Jeannie Lin, Me and Farrah again 🙂 , Me and the Carolyns (again LOL) ! Carolyn Jewel & Carolyn Crane, Seressia Glass, Jamie Wesley, The panel of Diversity in Romance: Why it Matters : Corrina Lawson, Sugar Jamison, Rebekah Weatherspoon, Farrah Rochon, Alisha Rai, My panel Multicultural Romance: When Keeping it Real Goes Wrong and How To Make It Right: Alyssa Cole, Me, Falguni Kothari, Lena Hart, Me and Laura Von Holt and finally the lovely: Synithia Williams, Lena Hart, Mia Sosa and Karen Manns.

Wowza! Looking back at all of these pics I see how great the conference was and how incredibly lucky I am to know so many amazing, talented and lovely people. Thanks for making this an unforgettable RWA.

All the best,

KMJ

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Just here… looking pretty

Jack says, hey people! He wants you all to admire him and his lovely haircut and his bandanna that says ‘I am handsome’ while Kwana runs around over on the sidelines doing all the things a writer does a week before the biggest conference of the year (no, she’s not grumpy or stressed at all).

Jack hansome (3)

For those coming to RWA National next week she can’t want to see you and remember Thursday the 23rd is #WeNeedDiverseRomance tee day.  Later!

 

All the best,

Jack & KMJ

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