- #WeNeedDiverseRomance, authors, book launch, Books, diverse romance, diversity, guest posts, interviews
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!).
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!
Speak on it- Meet the Agent with Linda Camacho #WeNeedDiverseRomance
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,
Time For A Change- Author Interview with Sonali Dev
Today on ye old blog I’m proud to welcome bestselling author of THE BOLLYWOOD BRIDE and THE BOLLYWOOD AFFAIR, Sonali Dev. Today Sonali is here to talk about her latest release, A CHANGE OF HEART.
Hi Sonali, thanks so much for being here on ye old blog today. It’s a real honor and a treat.
Thanks so much for having me!
First off can you tell us a bit about A CHANGE OF HEART?
It’s the story of Dr. Nikhil Joshi who lost his wife two years ago in a horribly tragic crime, and Jess, the woman who claims to have his wife’s heart in a transplant. It’s basically a journey into healing from loss and trauma and coming out into the light.
Here’s the blurb from the back of the book:
Dr. Nikhil ‘Nic’ Joshi had it all—marriage, career, purpose. Until, while working for Doctors Without Borders in a Mumbai slum, his wife, Jen, discovered a black market organ transplant ring. Before she could expose the truth, Jen was killed.
Two years after the tragedy, Nic is a cruise ship doctor who spends his days treating seasickness and sunburn and his nights in a boozy haze. On one of those blurry evenings on deck, Nic meets a woman who makes a startling claim: she received Jen’s heart in a transplant and has a message for him. Nic wants to discount Jess Koirala’s story as absurd, but there’s something about her reckless desperation that resonates despite his doubts.
Jess has spent years working her way out of a nightmarish life in Calcutta and into a respectable Bollywood dance troupe. Now she faces losing the one thing that matters—her young son, Joy. She needs to uncover the secrets Jen risked everything for; but the unforeseen bond that results between her and Nic is both a lifeline and a perilous complication.
Delving beyond the surface of modern Indian-American life, acclaimed author Sonali Dev’s page-turning novel is both riveting and emotionally rewarding—an extraordinary story of human connection, bravery, and hope.
What inspired you to write this story?
Nikhil and his wife Jen were major secondary characters in my previous book, The Bollywood Bride, which was a book that lived inside my head for many years before it was published, and Nikhil and Jen’s story was always one I knew I was going to write. But Nic and Jen both worked in some of the most disturbed and dangerous parts of the world, they constantly put themselves at risk for their cause. When I started writing their story, the risks just caught up with them. It happened without me meaning for it to. Then I got obsessed with the idea of healing from unspeakable loss and with the privilege of being able to say things like “I could never live without x, y, or z,” and what happens when we lose a belief so basic. That’s where A Change Of Heart came from.
Without giving too much away can you tell us how A CHANGE OF HEART ties in with your other books?
A CHANGE OF HEART (and all my books, really) stand alone. However, we do meet Nikhil and Jen in THE BOLLYWOOD BRIDE first and in that they two books are related. They basically follow the same family and there’s a strong family saga element to all my books.
You go a bit dark in A CHANGE OF HEART, really getting deep into emotions. What made this an important story for you to write right now?
I think we all cherish our families and loved ones and live with a deep-seeded fear of losing all that. One part of telling stories is exploring situations that disturb us so we can keep the faith that everything is surmountable and to keep our lives hopeful even when we see horrific things going on in the world. That’s at the heart of it, I think. I wrote this dedication to my children for A CHANGE OF HEART and I think it says it all:
For Mihir and Annika, because I want you
to believe that every darkness can be overcome.
And because you are the brightness that lights up my world.
Ok now I’m in tears. Thank you for sharing that.
This next question is a favorite of mine. Care to share the story of your “overnight” success with my readers?
I’m one of those writers who didn’t discover her love for writing suddenly or serendipitously. I’ve written and loved to write for as long as I can remember. But making a life as a writer was one of those dreams that somehow always seemed like a pie in the sky. So while I went to architectural school so I could have a ‘real’ career, I continued to pursue my ‘hobby’. But the need to write was so strong I found myself quitting my job at my architectural firm to work for an architectural magazine within months of graduating.
So, really, for me the true journey was going from business writing and journalism to fiction, and that flip happened when I was talking to my best friend who is a movie producer. She was complaining about the scripts she’d been reading and we both said, ‘Well, how hard can it be to write a good movie?’ Famous last words, right?
I wrote my first script for her within a month and then wrote several after that. None of these ever got made into movies (answering our ridiculously arrogant question with all the delicacy of a tight slap).
But once I’d caught the fiction bug I couldn’t shake it off. The high of creating characters and putting them through the ringer and watching them triumph was a drug like no other.
My kids were babies then and I wrote everywhere. When they napped, at playgroup, at the park. As they grew, I wrote at soccer fields, on swimming pool bleachers, in math class waiting rooms, and in parking lots large and small. I still get a lot of my writing done in parking lots outside my kids’ various activities.
But my quest to get published didn’t start in earnest until I completed my first manuscript, The Bollywood Bride, in 2010 and joined the Romance Writers of America (RWA). After that it was all crazed obsession. I spun in the edit/query/get rejected loop incessantly for three years before I sold The Bollywood Bride following an impromptu pitch to my editor in the middle of a Kensington spotlight at The Chicago Spring Fling conference.
Lastly, what can readers expect next from you?
My next book is a Rapunzel story about a girl who’s been locked up in a sterile room for 12 years waiting to find a cure for her illness and a boy who’s been a servant in her home and her only friend and her eyes to the world, and how they navigate the real world when she’s finally free.
And now here’s a short excerpt from A CHANGE OF HEART:
Nikhil’s head felt like someone had squeezed it through a liquidizer. Whiskey burn stung his brain as if he had snorted the stuff instead of pouring it down his gullet. He leaned into the polished brass railing, letting the wind pummel his face. The ship, all twenty-four floors of behemoth decadence, was like the damn Burj Al Arab speeding across the Caribbean. And yet the only way to know they were moving was to watch the waves. His fingers released the glass sitting on the railing and it flew into the night, disappearing long before it hit the inky water.
He imagined hopping on the railing, imagined being that glass. Boom! And it would be over. Finally, there’d be peace.
The sky was starting to ignite at the edges, as though the glass of Jack he’d just tossed into the night had splattered amber flecks across the horizon. It would go up in flames soon. All of it orange and gold when the sun broke through the rim of the ocean. It was time for him to leave. The last thing he needed was the mockery of another breaking dawn.
“Sir, why don’t you stay and watch today?” A man leaned on his mop, staring at Nikhil from under his windblown hair, that tentative, guilty look firmly in place. The look people couldn’t seem to keep off their faces when they talked to Nikhil—the one that announced, rather loudly, that they were terrified of intruding. Because The Pathetic Dr. Joshi with the giant hole in his heart might break down right before their eyes.
“Very beautiful it is, no?” The man pointed his chin at the burgeoning sunrise that had just pumped Nikhil’s lungs full of pain and waited for a response. But while the blazing pain in Nikhil’s heart was functioning at full capacity, the booze incapacitated his tongue. He wanted to react, wanted to have a conversation with the man who was obviously starved for it. He searched for words to say, but he came up empty.
Now there was a word: empty.
Still empty after two years.
Thanks so much for being here today. It’s been a real pleasure.
Sonali can be found at these places on the web. Please check her out:
And don’t forget to pick up your copy of A CHANGE OF HEART!
Hudson Booksellers: http://www.hudsonbooksellers.com/book/9781496705747
All the best,
Done you say?… No way! An interview with author Jacki Kelly
Today on ye old blog we have fab author, Jacki Kelly here to discuss writing and her latest contemporary romance, DONE WITH DATING from her Dating Just Got Serious series.
Hi Jacki, thanks so much for being here on ye old blog today. It’s a real treat.
First off can you tell us a bit about DONE WITH DATING?
Done with Dating is the sixth book in the Dating Just Got Serious Series. It’s Renee’s story. She lives her life by one rule. For Richard McKinney, rules are made to be broken. He does whatever makes him happy. During the Valentine’s Day wedding of Renee’s best friend something magical happens to her and Richard. But there is one thing standing in the way. And it’s big.
What inspired you to write this story?
I wanted to write a story where the hero wasn’t perfect. I wanted to show that sometimes couples have hurdles that aren’t easy to overcome. Sometimes you have to believe in each other enough to give your love a chance.
How does it tie in with the rest of the series?
The others stores in the series are all about sisters and girlfriends navigating the single dating scene and trying to find happiness and someone special. Just like in real life none of them have an easy time on the romance treadmill.
Do you feel your works are more character or plot driven?
That’s a good question. I guess I’d have to say character driven. If I were to change any of the characters in this series, the stories would be different and take a different path.
What made you choose this genre to write in?
I actually write in two genres, romance and women’s fiction. I like them both. Romance allows me to have the happily-ever-after ending that I wish always happened in real life. Women’s fiction allows me to tell a very different kind of story with all the harsh realities of real life. But my women’s fiction books all have a satisfying ending, even though they may not be happy-ever-after.
Tell us a bit about your writing schedule. Are you a Plotter or a Pantser?
I’m a plotter. And just recently I’ve stepped up my plotting game. I’ve gone beyond just outlining the story and now I also do a plotting board. I’ve found the more detail I work out in the beginning of the book, the more complex I can make the story. Watch out, I might get dangerous.
This question is a favorite of mine. Care to share the story of your “overnight” success with my readers?
I wish I had an overnight story to tell you about. But I’ve been writing for years. I’ve published short stories and personal essays as well as over ten books. My passion for writing started long before I thought about publishing books. Now I realize even if I decided not to publish another book, I would still write stories. Writing is just a part of who I am.
What advice would you give other aspiring writers?
I would advise aspiring writers to sit down and write. A writer is a person who writes. So finish a piece of work and let others read the material. Don’t wait, do it now.
Lastly, what can readers expect next from you?
I have three books coming out later this year. They were published several years ago by a small publisher. These books will have new covers and additional content. I encourage your followers to go to my website at jackikelly.com and sign up for my newsletter. For signing up they’ll get a free book and information on upcoming releases and events.
Thanks so much for being here today. It’s been a real pleasure.
Folks you can keep up with Jacki and her happenings here in these places on the web:
Twitter – @jackikellybooks
Jacki Kelly has written dozens of short stories and several books. She lives in the North East with her husband and one loveable dog. She loves hearing from her readers so please contact her.
You can pick up DONE WITH DATING HERE.
All the best,
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*
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?
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.”
“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.
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.
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:
Barnes & Noble:
All the best,
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: 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,
Warrior’s Heart… Interview with author Falguni Kothari & a giveaway!
I’m thrilled to have my friend and chapter mate, ultra-talented writer, Falguni Kothari on ye old blog today with a chat about and an excerpt from her long anticipated mythic fantasy, SOUL WARRIOR.
Hi Falguni. Thanks so much for taking time out and being here on ye old blog today.
Hey Kwana! Thanks for having me here, and for always cheering for me, and driving with me…and lots of other stuff. 🙂
Oh hursh! It’s always a pleasure. Now first off can you tell us a bit about your current work?
Absolutely! Soul Warrior is the first book in my new myth-based fantasy series, The Age of Kali, and reimagines the old myths and legends of India. The story focuses on Karna, the son of Surya, who has been the guardian of the Human Realm for almost 8,000 years, and has recently been appointed guru to a bunch of delinquent godlings fresh of the Celestial boat. On the surface, the divine request seems simple. But very quickly, the situation goes from bad to worse. Karna’s new students give him no small amount of trouble in the obedience department. His old paramour suddenly comes back into his life, seemingly to her own sinister agenda. Also, there are rumors that his old nemesis is on his way back to Earth after 5,000 years in exile to even scores. Then there’s the whole mess about his secret ill-fated offspring. All in all, the demons who Karna vanquishes on a daily basis seem like stress-relief compared to the new unearthly calamities disrupting his life.
SOUL WARRIOR is a shift from what your romance fans are used to. What made you choose this genre to write in?
It’s true that this book is categorized as fantasy fiction, but it has ample romance in it to make my romance readers happy. In fact, I started writing it as a romance between these two iconic mythological characters from an ancient Indian epic, the Mahabharata. Karna and Draupadi did not get a love story in the original epic, and I had since many years wished to write one for them. How the story morphed into more of a fantasy than romance still boggles my mind. So, by deliberately bringing Karna and Draupadi together I accidently unleased a whole alternate universe for the book…which since then has turned into a series. And its all good.
Fantastic! SOUL WARRIOR is your first step into the wonderful world of self-publishing. Can you share your first impressions of the experience? Has it been easier or harder than you thought it would be? Are you enjoying the process?
Honestly, I am loving the self-publishing experience. I love having full and final control of my work from prose to final product, even when its scares the pants off me. I love that every inch of this book is my own creation, decision and idea. While I had extremely great experiences working with both my publishers on both my previous books, there still was a kind of detachment from the publishing process after handing in the manuscript. With Soul Warrior I am creator and executor, and that appeals to my inner control freak like nothing before.
What advice would you give other aspiring writers who want to try self-publishing?
Be prepared for some hard work, hard thinking, and hard spending. With self-publishing, you will need to spend first: on excellent editing, fantastic professional covers, ISBN numbers, formatting your manuscripts correctly, PR if you have the budget. There’s a lot of money that goes into publishing a book. You might find free or cheaper alternatives, and finally it’ll be your decision how much or how little you want to spend. See? Full and final control. Do it your way! But do it the correct way. And to do it the correct way you will have to understand self-publishing.
Lastly what can readers expect next from you?
I have a women’s fiction story ready for publication, and set to release in May 2016. Yes, yet another genre jump. But it seems that’s how my writing rolls. I think of a story, write it and then sort out its category. What connects every one of my stories is love and a little bit of India.
Thanks so much for being here today. It’s been a real pleasure.
The pleasure is mine, Kwana J
SOUL WARRIOR: The Age of Kali teaser.
PRALAYA: THE CATACLYSM
Asht Dveep, off the coast of Madh Island, North Mumbai.
“We have visitors, my lord.”
Karna paused perusing the Times of India on his tablet, and cocked a brow at Lavya. Pale and lean, his friend and housemate loomed just inside the door to the den, hands folded in a neat Namaste. Irritated, but not at the interruption, Karna sighed, wondering why he bothered reading the news at all. Daily bulletins had become standard—or substandard, depending on one’s viewpoint. Climate change, economic disasters, terrors and terrorists all held front-page positions, every fugging day.
And what else could one expect in the Age of Kali? It was the age of sin, tsunamis and stock options in this currency-ruled realm. Not that the Gods had ever—not once in his almost eight-thousand-year career as humanity’s soul guardian—asked him to interfere with, subvert or reverse any of the realm’s natural or man-made calamities. His duty required only that he keep the world free of supernatural evil.
Karna stretched, his spine separating from the fiberglass chair like Velcro ripping. He was shirtless to battle the unrelenting October heat and though he’d queued up his sun-bleached, shoulder-length mane, sweat dampened his forehead, nape, armpits and back.
And therein lay the rub, he thought, coming back to the dos and don’ts of his duties. Being “asked” not to meddle in human affairs only made him more determined to help the helpless. At times, he managed to contain the disasters, and all was well in the Cosmos. But sometimes, his actions worsened the fate of the mortals, as well as his own. Like when he’d tried to repair the deficient ozone layer with his god-powers a couple of years ago.
Blasting the stratosphere with a load of solar radiation to augment the emissions from his godsire’s Celestial abode had been a solid, scientifically vetted idea. The extra UV rays he’d discharged from his fingertips had accelerated ozone production, and for a while he’d believed the crisis slowed, if not solved. But the hyper-paced oxygen cycle had also amplified energy output, creating miscreant solar flares, a couple of which had whipped across the Cosmos and breached the lower regions of the Higher Worlds.
Needless to say, the atmospheric fireworks hadn’t amused the Celestials or Heaven’s ruling Council. And as punishment for his hubris, Karna had been saddled with an annoying quirk—his body temperature was now directly proportional to his emotions—specifically, high-voltage anger. And stoicism did not come naturally to him.
Soul Warrior is available on AMAZON, KOBO, iBooks and Nook.
Find out more about Falguni Kothari
Thanks so much once again for being here.
**Falguni has kindly agreed to giving one lucky commenter a SOUL WARRIOR pendant. So comment away!**
*US residents only*
**Please leave your contact email in the comments. **
**winner will be announced on Monday.**
All the best,
Falling Hard for author Aliza Mann- the Interview
Today on ye old blog we have fab author, Aliza Mann here to discuss writing and her latest project, a new adult paranormal romance novella called DARK HEARTS in the FALLING HARD Anthology.
Hi Aliza, thanks so much for being here on ye old blog today. It’s a real treat.
KMJ: First off can you tell us a bit about your current work, DARK HEARTS?
AM: Hi there Kwana. I’m happy to be here. Long time fan.
Dark Hearts is really a story about taking chances. The hero is a young man who believes at the start of the story at least, that he can block himself off and protect himself from being hurt. It’s a story about the vulnerability that comes with trusting and loving others.
While struggling to contain the beast within, Mitchell Rowland imprints on the beautiful and mysterious Aurora Tanner. With Mitch’s dangerous lycan secret and Aurora’s demon father out to kill her, they must band together to fight against the very things that could ultimately keep them apart.
I sincerely enjoyed writing characters who was so passionate and young. It was a lot of fun and I hope the readers will enjoy it, as well.
KMJ: What inspired you to write this story?
AM: The inspiration for this story, like many, came from personal experiences. Mitch is very afraid of intimacy. He was the first character who popped into my head, and he was born from some of the things we’ve all experienced. There are times when you meet someone and think, hey, I wonder if I can really be myself around this person? It can be very scary to drop your mask for another person. And I was so interested in exploring those types of issues fully through my character’s lenses.
KMJ: What made you want to join in on an anthology?
AM: Oh, this was fun. I have a very fabulous critique group and at one of our sessions, someone said, let’s write an anthology! And as we unpacked all the reasons we should, and shouldn’t, we decided to go for it. And we decided to self-publish.
I can tell you, none of us knew what we were getting into. First, we decided we would have a thread of continuity throughout the entire collection through each relationship. For instance, Mitch is best friends with Hazel – in the last story of the anthology, Hunting Witch Hazel. I had no idea it was so difficult to capture another person’s character based on a description. I can tell you, there were times when Heather, the author of the other story, would tell me I had the voice all wrong. And it hurt my feelings, but I’d go back to the drawing board the next day.
Then there was all the self-publishing things, like book covers and editing, to deal with.
But was challenging as it all was at times, I had a great time creating this. I can’t believe it’s done, but it is just as rewarding as I’d hoped it would be. They really are a wonderful group of authors, and I’ve learned so much. That’s the reason behind it all.
KMJ: What made you choose this genre to write in?
AM: I have always loved paranormal, but because of some of the market trends and decline in new sales of paranormal romances, I haven’t been writing in the genre. Since we had complete control over the content, I took the chance to revisit my first love. It’s a story I was really interested in telling, so that was my opportunity.
KMJ: What advice would you give other aspiring writers?
AM: To never give up. Walking in stilettos takes time to learn, along with a few bruises along the way. I wouldn’t expect writing to be any other way.
KMJ: Lastly, what can readers expect next from you?
AM: Well, I have a few stories in the works. The first would be a sports romance, which is currently under consideration by a publisher, so hopefully that will be the next. My current work in progress is a contemporary romance about co-workers who begin a relationship and try to maintain professionalism. That one is fun to write. It’s always great to watch to strong willed people try to jockey for position. So, a couple of contemporary and we’ll see if I can get to another paranormal soon. I should mention, all are multicultural romances.
Aliza would love for you to join her and the other Falling Hard authors over on Facebook on 5/31 for their release party. Lots of fun and prizes to be had!
Click here to join: https://www.facebook.com/events/376131875905513/
And now here is an excerpt from Dark Hearts:
Aurora Tanner had told herself that she wouldn’t get into any mischief. She’d been friends with Hazel since she’d arrived, and with the assistance of Hazel’s witchcraft and multiple safety wards at the bridge to keep her father at bay, Aurora had managed to stay out of trouble.
This Mitch was trouble on a stick. He had the swagger of a hip-hop star, the looks of an actor, and the body of a god. When he’d walked up to her, the awkward moment of silence had made her want to jump him with both hands and feet. He sent her demon intuits into overdrive.
Something about him cracked her exterior. “Well, you’re standing here. What can I do for you, Mitch?” she asked, glancing around the room. There was no sign of demon handiwork, so she relaxed a little.
Mitch stepped into her personal space. Inhaling deeply, he stared at her. Unlike most men, he focused on her face. “Oh, baby, you’ve done a lot for me already,” he growled.
His eyes were different. The deep coal black of them reminded her of her father. Alchoe, her incubus father, had those eyes, along with the rest of their kind. Mitch wasn’t a demon, but she could tell that he wasn’t fully human. His dark hair languished in his face, making him look somehow both deadly and safe. “That was classy,” she said.
This man stood before her, seizing her and making her want to latch onto him. His deep-set eyes were Superman blue with an icy edge, framed by thick, full brows, giving him a sexy, dark look. His jaw line was pronounced. Thick tufts of dark brown hair framed his face, the close-cut sides highlighting his chiseled features.
Her panties were suddenly uncomfortable as he leaned into her, too close.
“If I had a choice, I would apologize. Doesn’t seem that I do. I noticed you from across the room. You’re . . . different than the other girls,” he said.
You can pick up Falling Hard here:
And you can find Aliza Mann on the web here in these cool places:
KMJ: Thanks so much for being here today. It’s been a real pleasure.
AM: Thanks for having me, Kwana. It’s been a blast.
Stay Writing… always
The other day, while procrastinating on Twitter, as I’m often found doing, I saw a tweet go by from the amazing director of Selma, Ava DuVernay. It said that she was participating in a talk this past Wednesday for the Tribeca Film Festival. Now I was instantly intrigued and knew I wanted to be there. But me being me I had to go to my usual second guessing and I got to thinking if I really wanted to take the trip down to the city, take on driving and parking and oh who am I fooling, it all came down to if I really wanted to get dressed and put on real pants and shoes and go out.
Well, I’m so happy the pants and better sense won out. It was my dear son’s day off from classes so he was more than happy to go as my “date” and he even urged me to bring along a copy of one of my books and some postcards (I guess paying for all those business classes isn’t for nothing).
The two of us headed down to the west side of 23rd street and upon our arrival we were greeted with a long but patient and enthusiastic line of what seemed to be mostly were writers and film students. And to the horror of my poor DS I went to snapping pics as if I didn’t grow up in the city and attend college at FIT right up the street. Who knows? Maybe I’ve been in the burbs a little too long, but whatevs. They don’t put cameras on these phones for nothing.
Once we were inside there was a short delay as we waited for Ms. DuVernay to make it in from the airport and her red-eye flight. The delay was no big deal to us as we were inside and comfortable and the room was full of fans of her work.
When Ms. DuVernay arrived along with the immensely talented, Q-Tip who was her interviewer for the hour, there was little doubt that the wait was well worth it. Q-Tip was a well prepared and through interviewer asking many of the questions that we all wanted answers to and Ms. DuVernay was just wonderful. She was friendly, thoughtful and candid with her answers. As well as generous with sharing her opinions and advice.
Here are just a few of her insightful words that resonated most with me:
Her mission: “To magnify the magnificence of black people.”
Wow! I could just stop with there. Isn’t that just beautiful? I just about gasped in my seat. With all the negative images we have been bombarded with for so long and the awful injustices that have been brought to life recently thanks to social media this just makes me want to stand up and cheer.
But I’ll keep going. She also spoke about her work and her responsibility to it saying, that it’s no one else’s responsibility to make the things she wants to see. Which also spoke to me and the stories I tell. Yes, I write for my readers and my fans, but ultimately these are the stories that speak to me and the ones I want to tell. If I’m not filling my own well then this is all for nothing.
Getting to Ms. DuVernay’s process: I was only too selfishly happy to hear that a genius such as herself also struggles with writer’s block as I do. Now I know there are those that say there is no such thing as writer’s block and try as I might I’ve tried really hard to embrace that philosophy (mostly by searching out articles over the internet when I should be writing) but I just can’t. She also has accepted procrastination as part of her process and recognizes that she is fueled by the deadline crunch. Something else I can definitely get behind and see in myself.
On working and ‘making it’ in a white male dominated profession: I loved Ms. DuVernay’s strong opinion and slightly ‘what of it’ attitude to it all. It is what it is and how we should just do what we do and go for it. She spoke about women too often asking for permission for things we don’t need permission for. I’ll just leave that right here with an amen.
Lastly, she spoke about her motto which is “Stay Shooting.” Which means to work your creative muscle. Don’t take breaks and don’t get stagnant or stale by being stuck in one box. Very good advice. I think I’ll take up a version of that and tack onto my bulletin board:
Thank you, Ms. DuVernay for sharing a wonderful hour with us!
Lets not talk about my closed eyes on this pic. Ava is holding BOUNCE here and that’s all that matters.
All the best,
No Bull About It… character interview from author Jeanine McAdam
Today on ye old blog we have a different kind of interview going on. I’m talking with Caleb Cooper, general pain in the behind from my friend and RWA/NYC chaptermate’s novel THE BILL RIDER AND THE BARE BOYCOTTER. Let’s go Caleb…
Thanks for hosting me today Kwana, my name is Caleb Cooper. I am from THE BULL RIDER AND THE BARE BOYCOTTER where I consider myself a villain but others would probably call me a pain in the ass. But in my own quirky and loveable way I redeem myself in THE BULL RIDER AND THE BABY because I’m the hero of that book. Not a knight in shining armor sort of hero but a decent guy nonetheless.
How did you come to your author’s attention?
My brother Logan Cooper is the hero in THE BULL RIDER AND THE BARE BOYCOTTER. Many, many times in that book I told my brother he was an asshole, an idiot plus all sorts of other rude stuff. I think the brutal honesty of my words caught Jeanine’s attention. I don’t think she completely agrees with how I treated my brother but it does create one hell of a story with interesting characters.
Did you give your author a hard time when she was writing your story?
No, not at all. I’m not that type of guy. Unlike my brother Logan, I have lots of potential as a human being. It just took a little bit of finessing on Jeanine’s part to turn me from a loudmouth idiot into a sensitive man. But I’m here to tell you, it happened in THE BULL RIDER AND THE BABY.
What do you do for a living?
Next question. Holy hell, did you read the title of the book?
Ok ok! Next question…Who is the love of your life?
If I told you that THE BULL RIDER AND THE BABY would be ruined. It’s called a spoiler. Look it up.
If there is a ‘love of your life’, what was the first thing you noticed about her?
She was pregnant. Hugely pregnant.
What’s your greatest fear?
Falling off a bull, hitting my head and turning into an imbecilic. Then again maybe that’s an old fear. If I were to update my fears, it would be Carrie Wang leaving me. Jesus H. Christ, I can’t believe I just said that. I hope Carrie doesn’t read this interview, she’ll think I’m a wimp.
What is the kinkiest thing you’ve ever done?
Now, you’re really pushing it (rolls shoulders). Have sex with a woman that I didn’t impregnate. By the way, Carrie was seven months along at the time we got together but I was gentle. That’s all I’m saying about her, don’t ask me anymore.
Will we be seeing you in future books?
You betcha. There’s THE BULL RIDER WEARS PINK. It’s about my sister Cassidy. She wants to compete against the men. You didn’t hear this from me but she’s probably a better rider than Logan and I combined. Her problem is, she’s a lousy Mom. Then again, she’s planning to work on that and I guess she gets involved with Pastor John. Talk about opposites attracting, I don’t know what Jeanine was thinking bringing those two together.
Sexy bull rider Caleb Cooper keeps falling off his bull and hitting his head. Smart neuroscience graduate student Carrie Wang is studying him. There’s just one problem, Carrie’s attracted to her broad-shouldered research subject. But she shouldn’t be, because Carrie is pregnant with Charles Winston’s baby. However, that one-night-stand occurred in a beaker closet and Charles wants nothing to do with her or the child.
Besides being handsome in a long-haired, scruffy sort-of-way, Caleb Cooper is kind and quirky. Carrie can’t stop touching him and their unprofessional attraction is mutual. Problems abound when Carrie’s traditional Chinese mother and Charles come to the rodeo. Carrie’s mother wants her to hook a husband and Charles wants Carrie to give the baby up for adoption. Carrie knows she could never let a stranger raise her child. Can Carrie go against everyone’s wishes and raise the baby on her own? Or could Caleb become a father to this child?
Jeanine McAdam is a writer of twenty-five romantic short stories, a few spicy anthologies and three cowboy books. Telling stories about imperfect people finding perfect love is her thing. Even though she lives in New York City she’s fascinated with the American west. She’s currently writing about bull riders and the spunky urban women who adore them in her Skirts and Spurs Trilogy. When she’s not writing she spends time with her teenage sons, ultra marathon running husband and two rescue Labrador retrievers named Desdemona (Desi) and Aaron.
Find THE BULL RIDER AND THE BABY:
Find Jeanine at:
Web Site: www.jeaninemcadam.com
Thanks once again for being here!
All the best,