Today on ye old blog we have an extra special treat and something that I hope can be a feature that continues with the hosting of other guests speaking on this topic.
First a bit of backstory – if you beta read for me, you know I love my backstory- that said, if you follow me on twitter @kwanawrites, you know that just about daily I tweet the #WeNeedDiverseRomance hashtag in honor of my late Nana and to bring awareness to the need for more equal representation for all, and in my specific case women romance writers of color on the bookshelves.
Well today’s guest, literary agent agent, Linda Camacho from The Prospect Agency, kindly reached out to me about the hashtag #WeNeedDiverseRomance and agreed to be on the blog today answering questions about herself, the industry, diversity and what she’s looking for.
Thank you so much for being with us today Linda!
First can you tell us a bit about your role as an agent at The Prospect Agency
I’m essentially my clients’ business manager, whereby I pitch my clients’ manuscripts to editors at publishing houses and try to get them the best deal possible. I not only handle domestic rights, but all other subsidiary rights (i.e., movie/TV, audio, translation, merchandising, etc.), so it can be quite a lot! I also provide editorial feedback to my clients, career guidance, and a shoulder to cry on. 🙂
Can we get a peek inside your #MSWL Manuscript Wish List? You represent a wide variety of works from middle grade through adult. Please tell us what you’re looking for in YA vs Adult right now?
I try not to limit myself, since it’s really sort of a “surprise me” answer. My tastes are pretty broad, so if in doubt, try me! I love literary stories, though I gravitate more toward higher concept genre fiction, like sci-fi, fantasy, horror, and romance. Scrolling through my recent #MSWL entries, I see some of my call-outs have been for YA fantasy, western, or pirate adventure; for MG, creepy tales, tear-jerkers; for adult, women’s fiction and romance–How I want some adult romance (I’m burning through all of Sarah MacLean’s books and am all about romance these days)! I could use a steamy contemporary or historical romance that turns tropes on their ear (bonus points if they have people of color starring in them, à la Alyssa Cole’s An Extraordinary Union).
Where do you see trends going forward in the next year or two in the industry in romance?
There’s been an uptick in historical romance acquisition, which thrills me, since historical romance is my first love. For awhile, editors weren’t really buying much historical, but now with contemporary romance hitting a bit of a saturation point, editors are becoming more open to it. I’m seeing a touch more paranormal as well—not a whole lot, but I’m seeing some shapeshifter stories, so I’m curious to see if paranormal becomes more sought after as well. Lastly, I’m seeing more #ownvoices writers being published within these sub-genres and I hope those numbers continue to climb.
On your twitter profile you proclaim yourself as a “proud Latina” that said what do the hashtag #WeNeedDiverseRomance and #WeNeedDiverseBooks books mean to you as a reader and consumer in the industry.
I cut my teeth on romance when I was a young teen and, honestly, I didn’t realize how unrepresented I was in stories until I found my first Caridad Piñeiro novel. That was when I saw what I’d been missing, really seeing myself in a romance novel. It’s an amazing feeling to see more representation today. I marvel at it.
Now as an agent and an influencer behind the scenes, how do you feel about the state of diversity and inclusiveness in the industry?
Do we have time for this question? I think we need to have a lunch or ten to really talk about it! While I’m over the moon at seeing more diversity, we are still incredibly behind. We have far to go, twofold, between the writers themselves and the folks who work in publishing. I’m seeing more diverse, #ownvoices writers being published, which is heartening. The ones I’m hoping will emulate that increase are my colleagues on the industry side. With a rise in diverse books and writers, we need more diverse editors, agents, book buyers, librarians, etc., to help keep the rise in diverse authorship going in the right direction. Sadly, that’s not really talked about. My agency, for instance, is a boutique one standing at six women, half of whom are people of color. So when I see other agencies, especially the big ones who are known for actively seeking diverse writers, who don’t have diverse people on staff? I have questions. The same goes for imprints that are famous for publishing diverse voices and are succeeding monetarily, when I don’t see diverse staff? I have issues. Because while the hiring managers may not actively be refusing to hire diverse people, they are not making the effort to reach outside their networks when filling open positions. That sort of complacence with the status quo is damaging to the #WeNeedDiverseBooks and #WeNeedDiverseRomance conversation. What it reads to me is that they’re happy to profit off of diverse writers, but don’t really concern themselves about working with diverse colleagues. I urge writers to challenge that and to support diverse staffing as well as diverse writers. We’re out there in the trenches, too, and it can be tough to keep going. Yet if we all band together, between us AND our allies, we can really do something here.
How do you feel you can help move diversity forward from where you’re working because of course hashtags alone won’t work?
I’m part of a POC in Publishing group where we’re strategizing the best ways of doing that, actually. If you’re working on the industry side, please hire diverse staff. If you’re a writer, buy diverse books, first and foremost, since sales figures do the real talking if we want to see more of those stories out in the world.
How do you feel about the recent changes at Harlequin with the closing of the Kimani line? Do you think it will ultimately be good for diversity in the industry?
It’s so sad to hear about closing of the announced lines–Kimani, in particular. I’m nervous about what’s going to happen to the writers of color. I don’t believe it’s a good move for diversity at this stage. I do like the idea of having those authors be integrated into the other lines, but the fear is that even with that sort of scenario, Harlequin is likely going to take on fewer writers of color because there simply won’t be room to acquire the same amount of authors that Kimani published by itself. I don’t know what happened behind the scenes, but if we’re operating on the assumption that Kimani wasn’t pulling in the best sales figures, then what incentive does Harlequin have to ensure that more writers of color get published? Publishing is a business, so regardless of why the books aren’t doing well, low numbers will be a barrier. If that’s the case, even the most passionate editors are going to have a harder time proving to the acquisitions board that those stories yield a profit.
Lastly, are you open to queries right now and what’s the best way for writers to query you if you are?
I’m definitely open to queries! We have an electronic submission form at www.prospectagency.com.
Thank you so much for sharing your time and insights. We are so grateful to have had you here!
All the best,
Thanks for being here and take it away Jamie!
The Family We Find
By Jamie Brenner
Last year my lifelong friend confided that something major was going on in her life. She had recently taken one of those at-home DNA tests, and was then contacted by someone also using the same testing company. My friend and this woman shared such a close DNA match, they had to be half sisters! Needless to say, this opened up a lot of questions — how had this happened? While my friend searched for answers, the writer in me created my own. And I had the starting point for The Forever Summer.
There’s probably no greater, more universal question than, who am I? Ten years ago, we could simply look at our parents and grandparents and that was enough of an answer. The idea of delving into family research was usually the domain of adoptees that couldn’t simply look at their immediate family. But now, in the era of ancestry.com and 23 and Me and shows like “Who Do You Think You Are,” ancestry research is the second biggest hobby in the U.S. following only gardening. And while it’s interesting and fun, there’s a percentage of people who get results they are not expecting, and in some cases, not prepared to deal with and as a result, have to reconsider what it means to be family. The complexity and joy of the discovered family is at the heart of The Forever Summer.
The Forever Summer begins with a surprise that brings three generations of women together. When two young women living on opposite sides of the country discover they are half sisters, they go on a road trip to meet the grandmother they never knew they had. One sister is thrilled by this development, the other is devastated; her mother has been exposed for keeping a very big secret. As for the grandmother, she is a woman who has suffered a lot of loss, and she had thought her days of having a house filled with family were long behind her. And then two young woman show up on her doorstep.
A big question for me was where this grandmother lived. What place could possibly facilitate the emotional journey these characters must go on? The answer came last spring when the CBS Sunday Morning show aired a piece about Provincetown Massachusetts.
Provincetown is past Cape Cod, the very tip of Massachusetts. It’s 3 miles long and two streets wide and framed by water on two sides. It’s remote and beautiful and has two big claims to fame: It’s the place where the Pilgrims landed before Plymouth, and it’s also one of America’s oldest arts colonies. Legends have lived and worked there: Jack Keroac, Eugene O’Neill, Tennessee Williams, Jackson Pollock and Milton Avery.
A more recent great artist, author Michael Cunningham, has lived and worked there for thirty years. He was interviewed on the CBS Morning show segment, and he called Provincetown “an eccentric’s sanctuary.” He said it’s one of the very few places he knows of that “prefers peculiarity.” That’s when I started thinking — this might be the place I’ve been looking for. A place where my characters could not only come to terms with their unconventional family, but embrace it.
Another piece of the puzzle fell into place when I visited Provincetown for research: walking around the wharf, I saw giant black and white photos on the sides of buildings. They were of older women, women who looked serious and weathered and from another era. It was an art installation called “They Also Faced the Sea,” about the matriarchs of the Portuguese fishing families who were, for many generations, the backbone of Provincetown. So of course the grandmother in The Forever Summer had to be Portuguese, and she passes this rich Portuguese to her two granddaughters.
Still, I needed something that would bring the two sisters in my story together. It’s one thing to be related to someone. It’s another to relate to them. Provincetown again provided the answer: art. Art was everywhere I looked; even the signs outside of restaurants and shops are mosaics made from bright tiles and colorful stones and sea glass. I decided that mosaics would play a part in helping the new sisters bond. With a mosaic, , there a lot of different bits and pieces, some that clearly fit together, others not so obviously — but in the end, all coming together to create one beautiful, colorful whole. Just like a family.
I hope The Forever Summer brings home the idea that our families might be messy, complicated, even not what we expected. But at the end of the day it is the most important thing we have if we can just let go and embrace it.
Pre-order The Forever Summer here now
Jamie Brenner’s latest novel is The Forever Summer (Little, Brown). She is also the author of The Wedding Sister published by St. Martin’s Press ( a Target Emerging Author pick and one of Popsugars Best Books for Women 2016) and the historical The Gin Lovers (St. Martin’s Press), named by Fresh Fiction as one of the Top Thirteen Books to read in 2013. She lives in New York City with her husband and two teenage daughters.
Check out Jamie on the web:
Jamie Brenner will be on tour!
Tuesday, April 25th, 7:00 p.m.:
Barnes & Noble, Upper East Side
In conversation with Cristina Alger (author of This Was Not The Plan)
(150 E 86th St., New York, NY)
Wednesday, April 26th, 7:00 p.m.:
Barnes and Noble, Cherry Hill
(911 Haddonfield Road, Cherry Hill, NJ)
Thursday, April 27th, 7:00 p.m.:
WORD, Brooklyn (126 Franklin Street, Brooklyn, NY, 11222)
Saturday, April 29th, 11:30a.m.:
Turn of the Corkscrew Books and Wine,
Celebration for Independent Bookstore Day!
(110 N Park Ave, Rockville Centre, NY, 11570)
Tuesday, May 2nd, 6:00 p.m.:
Savoy Bookshop and Café (10 Canal Street, Westerly, RI, 02891)
Tuesday, May 9th at 6:30 p.m.:
Ferguson Library (1 Public Library Plaza, Stamford, CT 06901)
Tuesday, May 16th at 7:30 p.m.:
Point Street Reading Series (Point Street Dueling Pianos, 3 Davol Square, Providence, RI, 02903)
Wednesday, 5/31 at 7:00 p.m.:
Summer Reads Panel
Turn of the Corkscrew Books and Wine
(110 N Park Ave, Rockville Centre, NY, 11570)
Saturday, June 3rd
BookCon, Details TK (Javits Center, 655 W 34th St, New York, NY 10001)
Thursday, June 8th at 6:30 p.m.:
Drinks and Discussion at Booktowne (171 Main Street, Manasquan, NJ, 08736)
Today on ye old blog I’m thrilled to have my friend, chaptermate, and she just happens to be RWA/NYC’s Golden Apple Award Winning Author Of The Year 2016, LaQuette guest posting to tell us about her latest release LIES YOU TELL. Congrats and thank so much for being with us LaQuette!Lies You TellbyLaQuette
A mob boss finding his dead lover alive six years after her
death, shocking. Learning they’ve got a
Six years ago Sanai Ward fled her life in Florida when her
lover’s infidelity nearly brings her life to a fiery end. Scared and devastated, Sanai starts over from
nothing, determined to create a safe and happy life for the child she discovers
she’s carrying.Single parenthood isn’t easy. But the joy of watching her
beloved Nazario thrive is more than enough motivation to ignore the ache in her
heart for the man that shattered her soul.Dante De Luca is a passionate man who’s had his life stolen
from him. Six years ago he was in love
and happy, until his woman was killed in a fire. Sanai was gone. There was nothing left in the ashes but the
locket he’d placed around her neck. Too
angry to deal with his loss, Dante seeks to make the rest of the world pay for
his broken heart by forming an unholy covenant with an unspeakable ally. He knows he’ll live to regret it, but signing
away your humanity to the devil seems meaningless when your soul is already
gone.When an accident involving a family member draws Dante to
New York, and forces an unexpected meeting between he and Sanai, Dante has to
decide what’s more important. His rage
and revenge, or the safety of the woman he once loved and the health of their
son?Just when Sanai’s deception is beginning to sting less,
Dante is faced with the fallout of his own lies. Will she forgive him? Will they survive them, or will their lives
become tragic casualties of the dangerous lies he told?
Excerpt:He’d been overwhelmed with love. She hadn’t said it to him,
still hadn’t, but he saw it in every other way possible. The fact that she’d carved
out a space for him in her home—several spaces to be exact—marked his
permanence, his residence in her life.He sat next to her on the bed, hating the fact he couldn’t
remain there pressed against her. He leaned down and placed a loving kiss on
tender lips. “Take care of yourself. Take care of my boy.”“As long as you agree to get back here as soon as possible,”
she answered through their kisses.“Then we have no worries…because that’s
exactly my plan.”He kissed her again, deeply this time, savoring her taste. He
intended to be home late tonight or early tomorrow morning, but even that short
expanse of time was too much to be away from her.“Mi mancherà mentre
non ci sono…mi piace quando torno,” he whispered to her before stealing one
last kiss.“What does that mean?” she asked. “You say it every time you
leave.”He only spoke bits and pieces of Italian around her. He knew
Nazario understood quite a bit from spending so much time in Mrs. Rossi’s care.
He never wanted Sanai to feel as if he was excluding her, so he only ever spoke
English in her presence.“Miss me while I’m gone…love me when I return.”She pulled herself up, leaning against the headboard for
support. He could see there was so much emotion building up behind her open
stare. He didn’t press. The truth was he didn’t need the words. These moments
they shared together told him more than any words in any language could ever
convey. He was stamped across her heart, and no one and nothing would ever
change that.Author Bio:LaQuette is an erotic, multicultural romance author of M/F and
M/M love stories. Her writing style brings intellect to the drama.
She often crafts emotionally epic, fantastical tales that are deeply pigmented
by reality’s paintbrush. Her novels are filled with a unique
mixture of savvy, sarcastic, brazen, and unapologetically sexy characters
who are confident in their right to appear on the page.This bestselling Erotic Romance Author is the 2016 Author of the
Year Golden Apple Award Winner, 2015 Swirl Awards Bronze Winner in
Romantic Suspense, and 2015 Georgia Romance Writers Maggie Award Finalist in
Erotic Romance. LaQuette—a native of Brooklyn, New York—spends her time catering
to her three distinct personalities: Wife, Mother, and Educator.Writing—her escape from everyday madness—has always been a
friend and source of comfort. At the age of sixteen she read her first
romance novel and realized the genre was missing something: people that looked
and lived like her. As a result, her characters and settings are always
designed to provide positive representations of people of color and various
loves hearing from readers and discussing the crazy characters that are running
around in her head causing so much trouble. Contact her on Facebook,
Twitter, her website, NovelsbyLaQuette.com, Amazon, her
Facebook group, LaQuette’s Lounge, and via email at LaQuette@NovelsbyLaQuette.com.Lies You TellBook TrailerbyLaQuette
Thanks once again LaQuette and readers don’t forget to check out LaQuette’s latest and her incredible back-list!
All the best,
Please welcome Lena and let’s get ready to one-click and please enter her giveaway!
Limited time sale!
He had it all…Good looks. Thriving business. Beautiful fiancée. Life for casino owner David Carrone and his sweetheart Athena Lewis is at its peak—until a scandal of lies, a secret from his past, and an unspeakable tragedy tears a wide rift between them.
He lost it all…
With his reputation in question, his business in ruins, and his world crumbling around him, David struggles to protect all he holds dear. But when the most important person in his life is met with danger, he can no longer play by the rules.
He risked it all…
Desperate to get back the woman he loves, David recruits the help of some unlikely allies—and become the monster many believe him to be. Because when risking it all for the one you love, sometimes you have to face the devil with a demon…
Enter Lena’s giveaway!
To celebrate the release of THE DEVIL’S BEDPOST, she’s giving away a special gift bag that includes exclusive swag. Enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win!Find Lena on…
All the best,
I’m so happy to have my good friend, Laura K. Curtis, the super talented romantic suspense author of Twisted and Lost on ye old blog today guest posting to introduce us to her latest contemporary romance Toying With His Affections. It’s definitely not your mother’s romance. Take it away Laura…
Not Your Mother’s Romance? Well, It’s MY Mother’s!
My mother reads my books. I sometimes wish she wouldn’t, but she’s eighty years old and knows her own mind, and she’s my mother—it’s not like I can tell her not to! She read my first romantic suspense, Twisted, and said she enjoyed it. But one night right after Lost came out, I was on the phone with my father and he said “your mother is reading your book and she wants to know how you know all this sex stuff.” Uh, she what?
Needless to say, we took a few minutes while I cleaned up the water I’d spat all over the couch when he came out with that gem, which gave me a little time to gather my thoughts. “Uh,” I said oh-so-eloquently, “research?”
I mean, seriously. Those two books were romantic suspense. They had relatively little sex as far as the romance world goes. It didn’t bother her that I knew any number of ways to torture and kill people, that I had good ideas about where to hide bodies. Nope. She was only bothered by the sex.
So now I’ve released Toying With His Affections. No murders. No (serious) crimes to solve. Just a woman who sells sex toys for a living. Oh, yeah, I can’t wait to hear what she has to say about this one.
Here’s a little taste of what she’ll be reading…and what you’ll be getting should you choose to get to know Griffin Barstow and Evie Bell, the Sheriff and the sex toy saleswoman. In this little preview, she’s showing him her wares as she prepares to do a home party.
Evie set the papers aside and reached back into the box. This time, she held up a pair of pink, fuzzy handcuffs. “Want to take these on patrol with you, Sheriff?”
“Uh…not particularly.” He grinned, though, imagining the faces of some of his deputies if he showed up with those hooked to his duty belt. The next item wiped the smile off his face. Black and almost evil-looking, it was circle with small rubber spikes all around and one larger protrusion so that it looked a bit like the symbol for Mars. At the end of the prong, however, a perpendicular spike gave the impression that someone had twisted the arrowhead of the symbol to stand straight up.
“What is that?”
Again, Evie’s fair cheeks reddened. The contradiction between the woman who could passionately defend the use of creams and toys and the one who blushed attempting to explain the actual use of such products entranced him.
“Uh, that’s for men. I mean, it’s nice for women, too, if the guy wears it, but it’s more designed to increase his pleasure than hers.”
“Please tell me this doesn’t sell.”
She’d regained her composure. And her starch. “Everything sells. But no, that’s not a top ten item.”
“Thank God for small favors.”
She handed him a tube of something else. “This is, though.”
He practically choked as he read the name aloud. “Staze-Long?”
“Yep! Between that and the numerous offers I get in my email every day, I can only assume many men in this country have a premature ejaculation problem.”
“I don’t think I can take this.”
She dropped her head and glanced up at him through the screen of her thick lashes. “I didn’t say you could. I need it.”
He dropped the tube and rubbed his hand against his leg. “That’s not what I meant and you know it.”
“Yeah, but you’re so easy to tease. Who’d have believed that under the bad boy of Fairview High lay a closet prude? Your reputation has suffered here today, Barstow.”
“Is that a dare, Bell?”
She cocked her head. “It may be. I’ll think about it.”
His heart pumped harder and he felt more alive than he had since the day he’d moved home to Fairview. You’ve always been addicted to danger, Bub, and it’s never done you a lick of good. Stay the hell away. But he had a sinking feeling he wouldn’t be able to take his own advice.
If you want another excerpt, there’s one up on my site at http://www.laurakcurtis.com/toying.php Come on by!
Thanks so much for being here today, Laura. Everybody check out Laura’s books. And you can get Toying With His Affection Here and at all your favorite e-tailers. You won’t be disappointed!
All the best,
Hey there lovely peeps! As you know I’m always thrilled when I’m honored enough to have a fabulous author here on ye old blog with an interview or a guest post and today is no exception because after much coaxing (don’t believe what she tells you) I am finally able to welcome my friend Irene Preston on ye old blog. I was lucky enough to meet Irene when I found out we would both be writing for Crimson Romance. Later I became a huge fan of Irene after reading her fantastic book, Infamous. What a well written, sexy, adult love story. I’m so happy to have her here guest posting today. And now Irene ye old blog is your old blog (I do reserve the right to chime in here and there though. Be warned) …
Love is Easy….
Well, this is the month of love. Valentines. Cupids. Be Mine Forever. So when Kwana invited me on the blog (okay, I begged) (see I told you don’t believe her LOL) , I thought I would do a little post about, you know, that ‘Forever’ part.
Here’s a little secret from the old married folks. Falling is love is easy. There’s a sweet little chemical cocktail (adrenaline and dopamine with just a hint of serotonin) that makes the whole thing very dreamy and swell. There are dates (where you both clean up to the best of your ability). There is a lot of being on your best behavior and sucking in your tummy. There might be chocolate.
Yep, falling in love is just dreamy.
Being married is hard. (true that) That’s the real secret us old married folks don’t tell you when you’re floating around on that haze of serotonin.
No matter how much you love someone, maintaining a daily relationship with them is hard. Let me prepare you right now. You are both going to do stupid stuff. Not stupid like accidentally letting slip out that yes, those pants do make your partner’s ass look fat. Trust me, anyone who’s lived together five minutes can patch over that little slip. I’m talking Relationship Armageddon level stupid. You will BOTH do those things.
Kwana recently released Bounce (love it, love it, love it), which addresses a major stupid moment as well as a host of other things. I wish I’d written it. Instead I wrote a flighty little book called Infamous. (A fantastic book mind you!) It’s sort of a ‘what if Paris Hilton fell in love with Mr. Super Conservative Soccer Dad’ type thing.
You know what happens? It’s all dreamy (Serotonin! Dopamine!) right up until real life blows up in their faces (or the dopamine levels dipped, whatever).
Now comes the fun part. Can we put this happy couple back together? To be honest, I love stories that start after the ride into the sunset. That’s when the real challenges start. That’s when the serotonin wears off and we’re left with non-chemical-enhanced life (okay, maybe there’s a little wine with dinner). And if we are very, very lucky and willing to work very, very hard – that’s when love deepens into something truly lasting and beautiful – when we don’t give up, when we fight to keep our happily ever after.
I hope you’ve read Bounce, because Kwana gets the whole thing exactly right. (Kwana inserts snort) If you’re looking for another after-the-sunset read, I hope you’ll give Infamous a try. (Yes, do!) It’s a little fluffier, but the message is the same. Love is easy. Marriage is hard. The rewards are worth it. (So very worth it!)
Here’s the blurb:
Four years ago, Morgan Riley and Jessica Sinclair’s love affair was pure Hollywood–the windswept beach, the whirlwind romance, the runaway marriage. Unfortunately, the ride into the sunset didn’t survive the publication of the bride’s tell-all book two months after she said, “I do.” Now, for their daughter’s sake, Morgan agrees to give his notorious wife another chance to be part of their family. But can a party girl be content with a quiet life in the suburbs?
As a Hollywood insider, Jessica has spent her life partying with A-list celebrities, shopping on Rodeo Drive, and living through scandal after scandal. When her estranged husband offers her a second chance at a “normal” lifestyle, she can’t pass up her shot at real happiness. Soon Jessica’s spending her days attending P.T.A. meetings and burning cookies, and her nights in sexy role-play, hoping Morgan will overlook her deficiencies as a homemaker. But what will Morgan do when Jessica winds up back in the tabloids–with his teenage daughter right next to her?
And, I’ve brought a little sample for you :
She took a deep breath and turned around.
The site of him hit her right in the gut. He was standing in the wide doorway that separated the kitchen and living room. He had just come from the shower and his dark hair was still damp and glistening. He was wearing a faded polo shirt that stretched over his broad shoulders. A pair of well-worn jeans clung to his lean hips. He hadn’t bothered with shoes.
She set the plates on the counter before she dropped them. The casual clothes were a dirty trick. She had been prepared to greet him in his usual business suit–but somehow the bare feet and damp hair seemed far too intimate. Which was silly, wasn’t it? Because the situation wasn’t nearly as intimate as it was going to get later tonight.
Morgan crossed the room to drop a kiss on Kinsey’s forehead.
“Miss me, pumpkin? Or have you been too busy spending all my money?”
His dark eyes met Jessica’s over Kinsey’s head and he gave her a slow smile. It was not a businessman’s smile. It was a lover’s smile. It reminded her of all the things they had been to each other and done to each other in this house. Despite the heat glittering in his eyes, it reminded her that in this house Morgan ruled with his cool and logical mind and he would not be swayed by her passion.
Well, she had come of her own free will.
She lifted her chin a little and gave him a smile of her own.
“Wine or soda?”
It was the start of an evening that was terrible in its normalcy. It could have been the happy family scene in any Hollywood movie—pizza and sodas consumed at the island in the kitchen, sharing the cleaning up, then popcorn and a pay-per-view movie on T.V. in the family room. All evening, as they played their happy parts, Morgan’s eyes followed Jessica. All evening she smiled and smiled—the suburban wife and mother, home with her family. All evening she knew with awful certainty what a fraud she was—the jarring note in this otherwise perfect family setting. The words from the Sesame Street song echoed in her head, “One of these things is not like the others; one of these things just doesn’t belong.”
To put the final, humiliating touch on the evening, she was hyper-aware of every move Morgan made. The three of them sat on the long sofa in the den. Kinsey was in the middle, but it was Morgan who was crowding her space. He lounged against the far armrest, his bare feet propped up on the coffee table during the movie.
She couldn’t take her eyes off his feet. Good grief, when had she ever found a man’s feet sexy before? Maybe it was because she wouldn’t let herself look directly at him, and his feet were the only part of him solidly in her peripheral vision. If she let her gaze wander just a little farther up, she could see the outline of his strong legs under the jeans, and then her imagination would take her even further, to where the denim clung lovingly to his hard thighs and the slight bulge at the very top of one of them.
She didn’t want to watch the movie. She wanted to watch Morgan, to drink him in and store him up. She very much wanted to keep this casual and relaxed Morgan that she had thought never to see again.
She still wasn’t sure why he had let her come back. Sooner or later, maybe even tonight, he was going to realize she could never fit in here. The scene was all perfect except for the cookie-cutter wife. No matter how hard she tried, no matter how many strands of pearls she bought, she was never going to fit into that June Cleaver role. When Morgan came to his senses, she was going to wind up ruthlessly evicted again. She would be sent back to Hollywood with all the other glossy, plastic people who played happy families on the screen and made train wrecks of their personal lives.
Hmmm…is marriage getting easier or…erm…harder here. I can’t quite remember.
You can get a longer sample (the full first chapter in fact) on my website.
Now, it’s your turn. Do you like books that start after a couple is already in a relationship? What about reunion stories? Or do you prefer first meetings and that super-sized seratonin cocktail? What’s your favorite example of either?
Since it is almost Mardi Gras – in honor of my cover, I’ll send a couple of Mardi Gras masks to one commenter.
Irene Preston has to write romances-after all, she’s living one! As a starving college student, she met her dream man who whisked her away on a romantic honeymoon across Europe. Today they live in the beautiful hill country outside of Austin, Texas where Dream Man is still working hard to make sure she never has to take off her rose-colored glasses.
You can get Infamous on-line at Amazon.com for only $1.99 (Sale ends Feb. 28)
As of this week, you can also find the paperback at Barnes and Noble and other local booksellers.
Thanks so much for being here today Irene and thanks for your too kind words about BOUNCE.
Don’t forget folks to comment for you chance at those cool Mardi Gras masks and please leave your contact info so Irene can get in touch with you if you win! Thanks.
All the best,
Lucky day! Nope it’s not me today on ye old blog today, but a good friend of mine and RWA/NYC chapter mate, Alyssa Cole here to talk about dark themes in romance. I do love it when things get a little dark and can’t wait to read Alyssa’s novel Eagle’s Heart. Take it away Alyssa (oh and don’t forget to comment for your chance to win a copy of Eagle’s Heart.
In general, when we read romance we’re trying to escape from the horrors of reality. We want to retreat to the safety provided by Scottish lairds and billionaire bad boys. But sometimes, we want something a little darker, a little grittier. We want our hero and heroine to really be put through the ringer, to get that vicarious thrill of danger and suspense as they struggle to find love in a hopeless place. (Rihanna knows what I’m talking about. Also, now you have that song stuck in your head. Mwahaha!) We’ll follow them along the tightrope of their story because the safety net of romance’s golden rule is always stretched beneath us: no matter what obstacles get thrown their way, the hero and heroine will make it to the other side, where a happy ending awaits them.
Writing a romance with dark themes is a balancing act for the author, too. My recently released novel, Eagle’s Heart, tackles some tough subjects. Organized crime. Child abuse. Human trafficking. These subjects are integral to the story that needed to be told, but I also didn’t want to overwhelm the reader or plunge them into despair. Romance is supposed to make you feel good! To keep things balanced for the reader, I tried to apply liberal doses of humor.
My heroine, Salomeh, is a high school English teacher who is falsely accused of a heinous crime. But comedy is born from darkness, and she uses her sense of humor to give her situation some levity:
“Marta, they’ve already won.” Salomeh picked up one of the less icky tissues and swiped at her nose. “I may as well be Hester Prynne, but instead of being branded with a scarlet letter, I’m photoshopped into a picture with pedobear.”
Julian, my hero, is a hunky Albanian FBI agent known for his ability to charm information out of people. Julian hides his tragic past behind his carefully constructed persona, using witty rejoinders as his primary means of communication:
“That looked like it went well,” Julian quipped as Yates climbed into the passenger seat of the beige minivan. “Isn’t getting information from the community supposed to be part of your skill set?”
“She only called me loathsome, so I’d say that it went better than usual,” she said. “And before you start critiquing me, you should remember that shooting people in the face is also part of my skill set.”
“If you shoot as well as you talk to strangers, I think I’m safe,” he said as he pulled off, navigating the car around a group of kids on bikes.
By giving my characters a sense of humor about the darker aspects of life, I hoped to make some of the more bitter aspects of the story easier to swallow for the reader.
What do you think of romance novels with dark themes? Have you read any that you really enjoyed, or any that were just too much for you? Comment below to win a free copy of the book!
Alyssa Cole is a Brooklyn-based science editor, pop culture nerd, and romance junkie. In addition to writing, she hosts a Romance Book Club and teaches romance writing at the Jefferson Market Library in NYC. When she’s not busy traveling, learning French, and, of course, writing, she can be found curled up in bed with her favorite books, Skyping with her fiancé, and watching cat videos on the Internet.
You can get Eagle’s Heart on Amazon here
And at Loose Id here
Thanks for being with us today Alyssa!
All the best,
I’m so happy to have my friend and chaptermate Lena Hart guest posting here today talking about her latest novel BECAUSE THIS IS FOREVER and a fun romance trope the secret baby! Please be sure to click on the raffle to enter her great giveaway! Take it away Lena!
Meet Mikey: Writing the Secret Baby Novel + GIVEAWAY
By Lena Hart
I have to admit, I never imagined I’d write a secret baby story. It’s a romance novel trope that’s been overdone and I just didn’t think I could write a unique enough story where the heroine would have a compelling enough motivation to keep her pregnancy from the hero.
But alas, I have written such a story and boy, was it a journey!
The most challenging part of writing the secret baby story: the “research”. This was a struggle for me—and a learning experience—because, not only did I have to learn to be a mother of an overly energetic 4-year old boy, I also had to get into the mind of said 4-year old. I don’t have any children of my own and don’t have much exposure to young children so writing about Mikey, my hero and heroine’s son, took a bit of Googling, ease-dropping, and quite a bit of people-watching.
During my online and field research I got to learn the dynamics of what eventually became Mikey. I learned that the average 4-year old speaks their minds—to the point of tactlessness—that they are picky eaters, occasionally demanding, and are a potential danger to themselves. Though some of my research came from watching the mothers on the bus or train, I have to give many thanks to the Mommy-blogs and YouTube videos that provided me with more insight into the mind of a toddler then I would have probably never gotten elsewhere.
The snippets I read and video clips I watched convinced me that there is little exaggeration needed when writing toddlers. They are truly natural-born entertainers. My heroine, Mia, certainly had her hands full with her chatty, energetic son and though I didn’t put in everything I gleaned from my online and field “research”, just having the knowledge made it seamless for me to channel the patient and occasional sternness my heroine needed in handle her son.
Ultimately, what I’ve learned about writing this story trope is that it’s one of those classic storylines that readers not only enjoy but can also connect and relate with. Yes, it’s a trope that may present little originality but like apple (or sweet potato) pie during the holidays, it never gets old. It’s a trope that introduces circumstances centered around some truth and I believe that provides a sort of comfort and familiarity to readers who enjoy reading about family and second chances at love.
I enjoyed writing Mia, Nate, and Mikey’s story—despite the mental and emotional rollercoaster this family put me on. And now I’m more than ready to take on the challenge of writing my next “Mikey”.
What do you love about the secret baby novel? Leave a comment and one lucky winner will be selected to win 1 of the 5 secret prizes. Prize and winner will be announced on December 1st.♥
Lena Hart writes sensual romances with a hint of mystery and suspense. Her bestselling debut novel, BECAUSE THIS IS FOREVER, was released October 2013. To learn more about Lena and her work, visit www.LenaHartSite.com or find her musing out loud at www.scatblogging.blogspot.com.
More about “Because This Is Forever”:
Thanks so much for being here today Lena!
All the best everyone and best of luck!
Today on ye old blog we have something a little different, a guest post. Now normally I do an author interview but when I read (I will say with my own bit of skepticism followed by pure enjoyment) fellow Crimsonista, Synithia William’s Worth The Wait I had to ask her here to tell us about her reasoning behind writing an older virgin heroine. Take it away Synithia….
The Thirty Year Old Virgin
The thirty year old virgin. Some scoff and say that’s unrealistic. How could someone possibly hold onto their virginity throughout their twenties? Romance readers may feel it’s an antiquated idea that is overplayed in contemporary novels. Yes you may be right, but if there’s one thing I do know it’s never say never. And to say that nowhere in this world is there a woman approaching thirty who’s never had sex would be (in my opinion) a lie.
I have friends who managed to hold on to their virginity through college. And only gave it up, for lack of a better phrase, when impending engagements approached. I admire these friends for doing this. It takes a lot of confidence in oneself to ignore the peer pressure, and relationship pressure, and stay true to your beliefs. One friend in particular, I could see still holding onto her virginity if she hadn’t gotten engaged and later married her husband. She’s the same age as me.
That’s why I believe someone like the heroine in my book, Worth the Wait, can, and probably does, exist. Tasha Smith was raised by strict parents who instilled in their daughters the importance of waiting for marriage. As she got older and saw friends in high school and college hurt, pregnant, or with a sexually transmitted disease, it was easy to keep to her decision to wait for marriage. But after college things got a bit dicey. Men weren’t thrilled by the idea that the only way to have sex with her meant they had to put a ring on it. Therefore, her love life became one break up after another.
That’s where my dose of 21st century realism comes in if you still doubt the whole almost 30 virgin idea. I can’t see how dating could be easy for someone holding out sex until marriage. That’s a lot of pressure on a new relationship. So, stuck between a rock and a hard place, Tasha resolves to lose her virginity by asking playboy entrepreneur, Jared Patterson, to be her first.
And from there the excitement ensues. I love drama, and put these two through their fair share. There are consequences to rash decisions, and the consequences almost tears families apart.
I hope you can understand why I went with an almost 30 virgin for this book. Give it a try. Let me know if I made it work. But for now, tell me your thoughts. Do you think a virgin would have a hard time dating in 2013?
Worth the Wait Blurb
After Tasha Smith is dumped yet again because of her virginity, decides it’s time to stop saving herself for marriage and start dating like women in the twenty-first century. She sets out to find a man rumored to be good enough in bed to relieve her of the nuisance, but discreet enough to keep her request a secret. Jared Patterson seems like the perfect candidate. Yet after one searing kiss, she wonders if she’ll escape the night unscathed.
Jared’s job as a successful fitness instructor and entrepreneur has helped him keep a string of meaningless relationships from the east to the west coast. After learning the hard way that women can’t be trusted, he has no qualms going from one sex only relationship to the next. Although Tasha is one of the few types of women he avoids—a good girl—the man in him can’t turn down her tempting offer.
What starts out as a onetime thing quickly turns into an affair neither want to stop. But when an unexpected situation drastically alters their relationship, it leaves them both asking if it was Worth the Wait.
All Romance Ebooks: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-worththewait-1030587-237.html
Synithia Williams has loved romance novels since reading her first one at the age of 13. It was only natural that she would begin penning her own romances soon after. It wasn’t until 2010 that she began to actively pursue her publishing dreams. Her first novel, You Can’t Plan Love was published in August 2012 by Crimson Romance. When she isn’t writing, this Green Queen, as dubbed by the State Newspaper, works to improve air and water quality, while balancing the needs of her husband and two sons. You can learn more about Synithia, and her novel, by visiting her website, www.synithiawilliams.com, where she blogs about writing, life and relationships.
Thanks so much for being here Synithia. I really enjoyed Worth The Wait and can’t wait for your next release.
All the best,
Happy Monday. I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. Thank you for the well wishes on Through The lens becoming available in print now as well as digital. It really is a dream come true and I can’t wait to hold my copy in my hot little hands. I’ve got mine on order and my fingers are itching with anticipation.
Today I’m over that the wonderful Angela Kay Austin’s Romancing the Pen talking about one of my favorite subjects, Romance heroines with a bit of a strong edge in Good Girls Bite.
Please come on over to Angela’s place and chime in with your opinion and one lucky person will win a digital copy of Through The Lens!
Have a great one.
All the best,
image from here