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!
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).
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!
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,
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 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.
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 !
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)
All the best,
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: 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?
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:
Excerpt + buy links: http://www.entangledpublishing.com/calling-her-bluff/
All the best,
Hello dear friends and welcome to what I must reluctantly confess now is really and truly summer. I don’t know how that came to slither up on me but there it is. I’m now elbow deep in writing my current novella while little hidden closets of my brain cook up scenes for other stories that I have in the works while deadlines, they be looming.
I’m also busy getting ready for the big Romance Writers Of America National Conference this July where for the first time I’ll be participating in (see: shaking in my boots) a workshop with three of my friends and chapter mates the talented authors: Alyssa Cole, Falguni Kothari and Lena Hart. For our workshop, on Thursday July 23rd which is called: Multicultural Romance, When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong And How To Make It Right, we’ll be talking about quite a few topics one of which will be diversity in romance including the #WeNeedDiverseRomance hashtag.
I’ve also self-proclaimed July 23rd #WeNeedDiverseRomance Tee day at RWA so if you have your tee and are coming this would be the day to wear it and represent.
I started the #WeNeedDiverseRomance hashtag around 8 months ago to honor my dear Nana who had recently and very suddenly passed away. Nana was a huge influence on me becoming the romance writer I am today. I have strong memories of seeing her, after a long day of being a child caregiver for working Harlem mothers (a job she took on right after I was born and one she retired from after my own twins went off to pre-school), tiredly taking a moment for herself to relax with a Harlequin romance before she went to off bed. Nana was a veracious reader of romance, a lover of these books that took her far away from her day to day everyday, but in no way reflected the amazing woman she was or the incredibly hard working black women (and men) who went off to work and entrusted her with their precious children as they did so. It will be so hard to fight back tears as I go to the RWA literacy signing this year and for the first time since I’ve been a member I won’t have the assignment from Nana to go and get a signed Nora Roberts for her. She was such a huge Nora fan that Nora’s was the one book I HAD to get every year without fail.
That said it was due to Nana that as a preteen I picked up these books and like her was entranced with the love stories that took me away from my concrete jungle with their high level of love, emotion and passion even though I could never fully put myself in the shoes of the creamy skinned, blue eyed, blond heroines that the Greek tycoons fell for no matter how many times I put my tee shirt over my head and pretended it was my own flowing locks.
But it was what it was, and being lover of books, I read what was available in the genres I loved and that was women’s fiction and romance. Taking nothing away I still found many books, authors and stories I adored. It would be few and too far between, but I was thrilled when I found books like Terry McMillian’s Disappearing Acts and the iconic AA couple of Zora and Franklin who looked on the page like people I could possibly know or, hey, even maybe be one day, just way more passionate. I wanted more of these type of stories! And thankfully with that book’s success there was more. Many more, but sadly not nearly enough.
The #WeNeedDiverseBooks hashtag and movement has been making great strides since it was started and does so much for children’s literature discussion and I hope landscape and I’d love for that to continue into romance and all genres of literature. It saddens me so much when I see how disproportionate the bestseller lists are when it comes to authors of color. Now I’m not sure I know the fix to this problem as I don’t think there is one fix all as the problem has come from years and years of the “norm” being books by Caucasian writers and book by writers of color being labeled as other and shelved separately if picked up by a mainstream publisher. And if not picked up by a publisher then self-publishing being the other option for an author of color where discoverability is even more difficult. So with these obstacles I think the fix will take a not so subtle shift of the norm being truly diverse catalogs put out by publishers. And by diverse that means having more than 1 or 2 offerings by authors of color a month and consistently giving equal presence and retail marketing money to authors of color. That way when the public goes looking for their next read the offerings truly look like a rainbow and instead of the “right” choice being subliminally made for them.
It would be great to also address the lack POC staffing in publishing. Not to mention but to mention the fact that African American college educated women are the largest group of readers in the country so why not service them and stop leaving money on the table?
This year the need for the #WeNeedDiverseRomance hashtag and the movement has been brought home even more with what has been going on all over the country. From the awful police shootings and targeting of black men, women and children to the most recent horrific event in Charleston at Emanuel AME. How many times have we asked the question or shouted the rally call #BlackLivesMatter? How sad is it that we have to ask this question and remind people of this fact in the first place? But the truth is too often POC color are looked at as so called “thugs” before they are looked on as regular citizens with all the rights that come with that label. I think having more men and women of color lifted up as heroes and heroines from early on in literature is one way this perceptions can change. We can also go far with changing these perceptions on the big and small screen but that is a post for another day.
Sidebar: If you are looking for another great hashtag to follow please check out #WOCRomance and also check out Rebekah Weatherspoon’s @WOCInRomance on twitter and tumblr where she highlights new offerings from women of color in romance.
I’ve gone on long enough but I want to finish by saying that I know #WeNeedDiverseRomance will mean different things to different people and that is fine and as it should be. This post is about why I started the hashtag. Your perception is your reality as mine is mine. #WeNeedDiverseRomance is also shouting out to the persons with disabilities and the LGBTQ and transgender community. We are all here, all having been marginalized and all fighting the good fight for our truths to be told. I’m just the one here today rambling on about why I started the hashtag with a tweet on a day back when I was feeling low in my grief watching what was going on in the world and and missing my grandmother terribly. The response has been overwhelming and humbling and I’m honored that the hashtag still continues today and to that I say tweet on. Tweet on until the hashtag seems silly and redundant because we are truly equal and not segregated and all is well because finally well and truly do have Diverse Romance. Thank you.
Early tweets for #WeNeedDiverseRomance
Click the blow links to order your Tee!
P.S. I’ll always love you Nana and will forever thank you.
Firstly, I want to say a huge thank you to all why participated and helped me with honoring my Nana by sharing yesterday on the #WeNeedDiverseRomance hashtag on twitter. I was so thrilled with how it took off and can only hope that the powers that be in the industry were listening. Whenever the mood strikes please keep it going. I know I sure will as long as it takes and as long as still #WeNeedDiverseRomance. You can check out lots of the tweets here on Storify. It was my 1st time on Storify so I hope they were all collected. And as for the header? Not sure how Sorify picked that.
Now, speaking of diverse romance I love it when I can bring a new writer to ye old blog and today I’m super excited to have my friend and RWA NYC chapter mate Ursula Renee here on Ye Old Blog to discuss her fantastic historical debut novel Sweet Jazz. Thanks so much for being here today Ursula.
First off can you tell us a bit about your current work?
Sweet Jazz is an interracial romance that takes place in Harlem, New York in 1938.
The Big House’s “Coloreds Only” policy makes the club popular with Harlem residents. The same policy makes it harder for the owners to find and retain musicians. After four weeks of listening to saxophonists with bigger dreams than talent, the owners are ready to hire the first person who walks in and plays “one good note.” Their words come back to haunt them when Randy Jones auditions.
Many of the employees are not thrilled when Randy breaks the color barrier. He does find an ally in Cass, the club’s sassy singer, who goes out of her way to welcome him. Offstage, Cass Porter looks like a teenager, but when she sings she’s all woman. Inside, she’s been hurt badly and has determined never to love again.
As their relationship develops, life at the club for Randy becomes complicated when he has to fight both Cass’s fear of opening her heart and those who want to keep them apart.
Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?
I discovered the joys of writing after I wrote my first story when I was eight. Though I continued writing short stories, poems, and fan fiction, I did not considering pursung a career as an author until I started working on Sweet Jazz.
What characteristics are essential in a hero for you? And how about a heroine?
I like my heroes to be handsome, strong and confident. However, they also have to be willing to work with others and not insist on charging in to save the day alone.
A heroine should be strong, independent and smart. She should think before rushing into a situation that could potentially cause harm to her or others.
Tell us a bit about your writing schedule. Are you a Plotter or a Pantser?
I write during my hour long commute in the mornings and evenings. I also try to schedule one weekend a month in which I focus entirely on my manuscript.
I think of myself as both a pantser and plotter. As soon as an idea pops into my mind, I have to get it down on paper. Once I have completed the first draft, I create an outline. I used this during the editing process to ensure that each plot point moves the story forward and the characters appear and act as I originally envisioned.
What advice would you give other aspiring writers?
Do not give up.
There may be times when you feel as if everyone is against you – family and friends may laugh at you; editors tell you the manuscript does not work; or the words will not come to you. In either case, stop, take a deep breath and remember that success does not come to those who quit.
That is perfect advice. Thanks so much! What can readers expect next from you?
I am working on an interracial romance set in 1957, between a first generation Italian-American and a Filipino/African-American.
Fantastic! And now friends an excerpt from Sweet Jazz:
Cass rolled her eyes as she slid a sheet of paper across the table. He glanced down at the sketch of an older woman standing next to a piano. She wore an evening gown, and her hair was pulled back in a bun, with a feather ornament holding the style in place.
“The Big House is proud to feature Cass, with music by The Big House Band,” Randy read. He
glanced from the paper to her, then back at the paper. He recognized the similarities in the facial features, but it couldn’t be possible. “You can’t be the same Cass.”
“No other Cass here.”
“Your momma lets you work here?” Randy asked as he handed back the flyer.
He knew some parents did not care what their children did as long as they were out of the way.
However, allowing a young girl to work in a club was beyond neglectful.
“My momma doesn’t have much say in the matter, seeing as how she’s down south,” Cass said, placing the paper on the table.
“That’s where she lives.”
“What about your relatives?”
“They’re down there, too.”
Randy lowered his foot to the floor and straddled the chair. He needed to sit down. There was no way she was up there by herself.
“Don’t you have someone lookin’ after you?”
“I’ve been looking after myself for six years.”
“Six years? Girl, you jokin’? You can’t be no older than…what…sixteen? seventeen?”
Twenty-two? It explained why she got away with arguing with Junior, but, still… Randy slowly glanced from the ankle socks and canvas shoes on her feet to her two braids. She looked as if she should be playing with dolls or jumping rope, not singing in a club.
Thanks so much for being here today. It’s been a real pleasure.
Ursula can be found on the web at:
And you can buy Sweet Jazz here:
All the best,
P.S. Sidebar: I’ll be appearing at Between The Covers in Riverdale NY on Monday 11/17 from 7-9 reading an excerpt from BOUNCE (I’ll try and find a spicy scene) And I’ll have some copies to sign! So if you are in upper Manhattan come on out! Details are here.