Happy New Year my Dear Peeps. Welcome to the new world.
Ouch! Does that sounds as scary as you read it as it does when I write it?
Sorry. I’ll just move right along to happier chit chat. I’m hoping you all had a wonderful holiday and a
Very Happy New Year!
I’m thrilled to say that on the very first day of the new year I got to start it off in a most exceptional way by seeing my very first mass market single title, INSERT GROOM HERE book one in my Unconventional Brides Series, on the shelves in my local Barnes and Noble for the first time. It was a pretty fantastic feeling and one I’ll never be able to recapture. Hey, your first time is your first time and I’m so grateful to my editor, Selena James and my publisher, Kensington Books for making that dream come true! (cut to me posing awkwardly while I try and play it cool blinking back tears as my husband not so discreetly snaps pics.)
I tell you what, I may be a way late bloomer, but I least I got a chance to see the sun.
There is something to this never too late stuff.
You can pick up your copy of INSERT GROOM HERE Book 1 of the
Unconventional Brides where ever books are sold !
And a bonus don’t forget: please subscribe to my mailing list on the right and click below to enter this
Hint: it’s FIRE! (Kindle Fire)
All the best,
Today is one of those days where the life I’m living feels quite unlikely. A woman like me starts to think and reverts back to the girl I was growing up in Harlem and Washington Heights. Back then I spent almost as much time on the ‘A’ train as I did off of it as I commuted back and forth to school. In those days I always had my nose in a book and if a book wasn’t to be had I would erase my surroundings and retreat to the way back of my imagination and come up with a story of my very own. On the train there were plenty of characters for story fodder.
Well today a story of my very own is out and released into the world in a way that is almost beyond my dreams.
INSERT GROOM HERE is my first single title and the first in my Unconventional Brides Series and here is the kicker, this book being release from Kensington publishing is the first for me that will be out in book stores and retail outlets and holy crackers there are even some libraries that will carry it! The thought of it overwhelms me. The thought that there may be another girl out there growing up somewhere like I did, who at a certain point may desperately need an escape from her everyday life on the commuter train or a home life which is not the fairy-tale her mask pretends it to be. The fact that she may find that escape in one of my books that she happens upon with a heroine that happens to look like her makes me so very happy.
I am grateful to God to have made it to this point in my career and know I have so much further to go, both in my writing and in helping to make more of these types of stories more equally accessible to the public.
But for now, today, I know day dreaming is not for nothing. Dreaming combined with work can lead to a moment of fulfillment greater than I ever imagined.
And now for the pluggy part about my book:
INSERT GROOM HERE Book #1 the
Unconventional Brides Series
Eva Ward has won a lavish wedding on the nation’s hottest morning show and can’t wait to kick off her
happily-ever-after in style. Too bad her fiancé backs out on-air—and cameraman Aidan Walker makes sure her private meltdown goes viral, down to the last couch-kicking moment. The only way Eva can save face and keep her perfect nuptial plans on track is to star in a new “find-a-groom” reality segment. But finding Mr. Right in one month means ignoring her handsome new producer—none other than Aidan himself—and getting their instant, exasperating attraction out of her system…
Eva soon finds there’s a lot more to Aidan than freewheeling charm. But one glimpse of his caring side can’t make up for off-camera politics, Aidan’s own secrets—or Eva’s fear that they’re too different to ever trust each other. So it’s time for her to flip this script, write twists no one will see coming—and risk her heart to get the real thing…
Be one of the first to be introduced to the
Unconventional Brides and grab your copy today where ever books are sold !
And a bonus: please subscribe to my mailing list on the right and click below to enter this month’s giveaway!
Hint: it’s FIRE! (Kindle Fire)
All the best,
Hello Dear Peeps,
So nice to check in with you all and wishing you a wonderful week. So far mine has been quite eventful.
I wanted to announce that this month’s 25.00 Gift card contest winner was Vernetta E. Congrats Vernetta! Subscribe to the KMJ Newsletter in the links on the right to stay in the know with KMJ news and releases and be up on our monthly contests! Don’t miss out.
And now for the big news… on Sunday I had my first ever signing at Barnes and Noble when I signed at Barnes and Noble in Yonkers, NY for their Holiday Book Fair to benefit the Yonkers Public Library. Talk about a dream come true! I was so honored to be invited and to come out for a great cause.
I also could not be more grateful to the friends and family that came out in support of me by picking up copies of HOLIDAY TEMPTATION, the Christmas Anthology that I’m in with Donna Hill and Farrah Rochon. You can see from the below photos that I could not stop smiling. Especially with all my family. You can pick up your copy wherever books are sold. Or just look up and click over to my books page. Thank you so much!
All the best,
Ok so this happened. HOLIDAY TEMPTATION came out and no fooling, the publishers weren’t kidding with me, but it is out and in bookstores just like they said.
At this point in my career seeing my name on a book on a shelf was still something I dreamed of but it had become a dream in the far back corner or my mind, about two feet to the left and behind the box that says ‘GET BACK TO COLLEGE GRADUATION WEIGHT’. But today I went into my local Barnes and Noble, the one I’d been in countless times before with my dear twins since they were tiny tots, and there it was. Right up high on the romance shelves, face out no less with the other new releases.
Holy crap HOLIDAY TEMPTATION was there! And it was next to Hannah Howell and one book over from Madeline Hunter. The way I nearly swooned one would think I’d taken to day drinking. But this feeling was better than any drink. This was the feeling of a dream not deferred, but one come true after years of hard work, more rejections than I could count or take so I just stopped counting them, and a determined spirit and faith that boarded on nonsensical so only those with faith or little sense would dare understand.
Thank you all for sticking with me and understanding.
Now what to do with that blasted GRADUATION WEIGHT box?
All the best,
Today on ye old blog we have and interview with a fantastic new author Kaia Danielle here to talk, writing, life and her exciting debut with Entangled Publishing: CALLING HER BLUFF.
Hi Kaia, thanks so much for being here on ye old blog today!
KMJ: First off, Kaia can you tell us a bit about CALLING HER BLUFF?
Kaia: Romance author Kamaria Wilson returns to Las Vegas to prove she has kicked her gambling addiction to the curb. But the temptation to play poker again is stronger than ever. Why does Mr. Perfect have to show up now?!
KMJ: That sounds fantastic. I love Vegas and have spent a night or two at the Blackjack tables. What inspired you to write this story?
Kaia: My publisher put out a call for stories set during a romance readers’ convention in Las Vegas. I thought this was the perfect scenario to craft something unique. Once I came up with the premise of a gambling addict heroine, a casino security hero and a one-night stand, I just had to write this story.
KMJ: Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?
Kaia: Um, probably but accepting the fact that I could craft a story that anyone else would want to read was a journey. I had a few years of combatting “Who do you think you are? Zora wrote Their Eyes Were Watching God in 6 weeks. You have no business trying”-type inner dialogue.
KMJ: Do you feel your works are more character or plot driven?
Kaia: Plot driven. I usually figure out the scenario first then get introduced to the characters during the pre-planning and first draft.
KMJ: What made you choose this genre to write in?
Kaia: I’m a total romantic comedy movie junkie. I bow down to Nora Ephron’s work. The funny thing is that I set out to write historical romance. But, contemporary romantic comedy comes to me easier. The smartass voice you find in the book is the real me. Just check my Twitter feed.
KMJ: What characteristics are essential in a hero for you? And how about a heroine?
Kaia: Hero: I have to fall in love with him some way, somehow. It is usually the grand gesture that reels me in. I’m still crushing so hard on my hero Jack Alderisi in Calling Her Bluff. Ironically, it wasn’t his grand gesture that hooked me. It was the little every day considerate things he did leading up to his big grand gesture.
Heroine: She has to have a life outside of hunting for a man. I love when a heroine has to deal with real life “stuff”. My favorite line from Kamaria in Calling Her Bluff is when she says something like “I don’t want you to fix it for me. I’m the one who fell off the wagon, now let me figure out how to get back on it.”
KMJ: Getting a little more serious, you have been a strong voice and advocate for more diversity in romance. Can you share with the readers why you feel this is such an important issue for this time?
Kaia: I grew up in a town where at least 66 different languages were spoken at home. My best friend growing up was of Swiss French-Gabonese descent. I attended a college where the African-American female experience was infused into each course. Diversity is my “normal”. The mix I’ve seen promoted in the Romance world hasn’t been “normal” until very recently. I’d like to do what I can to fix that. Besides, there’s a whole group of open-minded, voracious readers who are missing out on a bunch of great stories due to lack of exposure.
KMJ: Thanks so much. Now would you care to share the story of your “overnight” success with my readers?
Kaia: My overnight success started 13 years ago when I started attempting to write short stories for the confession magazine market. (Remember True Confessions, Bronze Thrills and Black Romance magazines? Some of those were me!) It took me a year to finish my first story. It was the second one I sold.
KMJ: I do remember and loved Confessions. Thank you! Who are some of your favorite writers that have influenced you?
Kaia: Zora Neal Hurston, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Beverly Jenkins, Francis Ray, Gwyneth Bolton, Tina McElroy Ansa, Terry McMillan, LA Banks, Alice Walker, Audre Lorde
KMJ: Now please dish what book (s) is/are currently on your nightstand or e-reader?
Ivy’s League by Nia Forester
Passing Love by Jacqueline E. Luckett
A Treasure of Gold by Piper Huguley
Bricktop’s Paris by T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting
KMJ: What advice would you give other aspiring writers? Butt in chair. Fingers on keyboard. Eyes on prize. I wrote Calling Her Bluff while working 60 hour weeks, being the primary caretaker for my mother, maintaining a long distance relationship, moving my mother and myself across the state with exactly 2 weeks-notice (during the 60 hour work weeks) and a snowstorm at our heels. (Wait, how the hell did I manage to all that? Oh yeah, sangria.) I decided no more BS, no more excuses when I started this story. Even it was only for a half hour on some days, I still got some words in.
KMJ: Lastly, what can readers expect next from you?
I’m working on an adult contemporary romance set during homecoming week at a fictional HBCU (Historically Black College/University). Remember that guy in college who was “just a friend” but there was always a special connection and everybody assumed that you were together, but nothing ever happened between you guys? Yeah well, play time is over.
Now Kaia is kind enough to share an excerpt from CALLING HER BLUFF:
Shame kept her locked in place, eyes down, trembling hands locked between her knees. She stared at the backs of her fingers, fighting that itch to touch her chips, the cards, to rub the felt of the poker table. Dammit, this wasn’t supposed to happen.
“Ma’am.” The voice was softer now.
“I didn’t do anything wrong.” The words were meant to convince herself. There might be a pile of chips in front of her, but she felt like a loser. Again.
“No one said you did.” The man’s hand now found its way between her shoulder blades. The warmth of his hand flooded into her. His warmth felt safe. Just like the guy from last night. She shook him off again. The last thing she needed was to be thinking about Jack. Or how she should’ve stayed in his bed. If she hadn’t run from him, she wouldn’t be here now.
His voice was too smooth. Too practiced. Too, too familiar. Kamaria didn’t like that either. She didn’t even want the money. No amount of winnings could compensate for what she’d just lost by sitting down at this table. And talk? What could he possibly want to discuss? “I’ve got nothing to say to you. I was just leaving anyway.”
The pressure on her back returned, this time more insistent. “That’s where you’re wrong, Kamaria. I think you have plenty to say to me.”
She could tell by his emphasis on her name that he was going to kick her out. She’d ruined her sobriety, and now she’d messed up the conference too! She felt tears rim her bottom lashes. She willed herself to keep her chin up as she stood. This was no way to start her week at the convention. She had managed to stay away for so long. She hadn’t even been in town sixteen hours and had already crumbled in the face of weakness more than once. All the promises she made to Chastity—to herself—about being able to avoid the casino evaporated into nothing. She should have never come back here.
The rent-a-cop’s hand had now moved from her back to her arm. His grip tightened slightly, pulling her to her feet.
Her stomach fell to her knees the moment the security jerk stood up so she could finally get a good look at him. The big, big body. The impossibly wide chest. Those full lips. Kamaria groaned. “Oh no, not you.”
Kaia: Thanks so much for being here today. It’s been a real pleasure.
KMJ: Thank you the pleasure was all mine!
KMJ: You can find Kaia here on the web:
Excerpt + buy links: http://www.entangledpublishing.com/calling-her-bluff/
All the best,
This post is late in coming and I apologize for that, but here it is. Last week most, well many in the romance community, convened at the Marriot in Times Square for the annual Romance Writers of America National Conference. A fun and enlightening time was had by all, ok I’ll say most because what do I know? What I do know and can say is that I had a good time, though it was quite the whirlwind.
I’d love to know how is it a day could speed by so fast?
I want to thank so many for their amazing support of #WeNeedDiverseRomance by wearing their Tee Shirts on conference Thursday. Seeing so many Diverse Romance tees around the conference was just amazing and I do think made quite a bold statement that those in the gate keeper positions could not ignore (I do believe I heard some keys rattling).
Also I’d like to give thanks to all who came to the multicultural workshop I participated in on Thursday with Alyssa Cole, Lena Hart and Falguni Kothari. Your support was priceless and so appreciated.
I was also so happy to attend the other workshops held on diversity this year. As a longtime member of RWA I feel there was a much more open and truthful vibe to the conference dialogue this year all around when it came to diversity, self -publishing and the state of the industry. The dialogue, for the most part, was well received and for the parts that were not, let’s just say, they needed to be said. I’m so happy to hear that RWA will now be forming a special committee on diversity so this will not just be a one year buzz hashtag type of thing.
Thank you all so much once again for helping make this happen. Please keep up your support by continuing to voice your opinions and get the word out about the need for more diversity in romance and all genres of publishing. #WeNeedDiverseRomance
Now onto the pics…
So many beautiful faces! Can you spot some of your faves?
Lauren Dane, Members or RWA/NYC, Flappers at Passionate Ink party, Me & the fab Nora Roberts, Holley Trent, Vanessa Peters, Falguni Kothari, Trent Hart, Elizabeth Mahon, Jenn Le Blanc, Trent Hart, Falguni Kothari, Carolyn Jewel & Carolyn Crane, Vanessa Riley, Jamie Wesley, Farrah Rochon, Synithia Williams, Tracey Livesay, Alyssa Cole, Laura K. Curtis, Megan Frampton
Sugar Jamison, Kianna Alexander, Ginger Merante, Falguni Kothari, Kianna Alexander, Farrah Rochon, Rebekah Weatherspoon, Adrienne Trent, Jeannie Lin, Me and Farrah again 🙂 , Me and the Carolyns (again LOL) ! Carolyn Jewel & Carolyn Crane, Seressia Glass, Jamie Wesley, The panel of Diversity in Romance: Why it Matters : Corrina Lawson, Sugar Jamison, Rebekah Weatherspoon, Farrah Rochon, Alisha Rai, My panel Multicultural Romance: When Keeping it Real Goes Wrong and How To Make It Right: Alyssa Cole, Me, Falguni Kothari, Lena Hart, Me and Laura Von Holt and finally the lovely: Synithia Williams, Lena Hart, Mia Sosa and Karen Manns.
Wowza! Looking back at all of these pics I see how great the conference was and how incredibly lucky I am to know so many amazing, talented and lovely people. Thanks for making this an unforgettable RWA.
All the best,
Jack says, hey people! He wants you all to admire him and his lovely haircut and his bandanna that says ‘I am handsome’ while Kwana runs around over on the sidelines doing all the things a writer does a week before the biggest conference of the year (no, she’s not grumpy or stressed at all).
For those coming to RWA National next week she can’t want to see you and remember Thursday the 23rd is #WeNeedDiverseRomance tee day. Later!
All the best,
Jack & KMJ
Hello dear friends and welcome to what I must reluctantly confess now is really and truly summer. I don’t know how that came to slither up on me but there it is. I’m now elbow deep in writing my current novella while little hidden closets of my brain cook up scenes for other stories that I have in the works while deadlines, they be looming.
I’m also busy getting ready for the big Romance Writers Of America National Conference this July where for the first time I’ll be participating in (see: shaking in my boots) a workshop with three of my friends and chapter mates the talented authors: Alyssa Cole, Falguni Kothari and Lena Hart. For our workshop, on Thursday July 23rd which is called: Multicultural Romance, When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong And How To Make It Right, we’ll be talking about quite a few topics one of which will be diversity in romance including the #WeNeedDiverseRomance hashtag.
I’ve also self-proclaimed July 23rd #WeNeedDiverseRomance Tee day at RWA so if you have your tee and are coming this would be the day to wear it and represent.
I started the #WeNeedDiverseRomance hashtag around 8 months ago to honor my dear Nana who had recently and very suddenly passed away. Nana was a huge influence on me becoming the romance writer I am today. I have strong memories of seeing her, after a long day of being a child caregiver for working Harlem mothers (a job she took on right after I was born and one she retired from after my own twins went off to pre-school), tiredly taking a moment for herself to relax with a Harlequin romance before she went to off bed. Nana was a veracious reader of romance, a lover of these books that took her far away from her day to day everyday, but in no way reflected the amazing woman she was or the incredibly hard working black women (and men) who went off to work and entrusted her with their precious children as they did so. It will be so hard to fight back tears as I go to the RWA literacy signing this year and for the first time since I’ve been a member I won’t have the assignment from Nana to go and get a signed Nora Roberts for her. She was such a huge Nora fan that Nora’s was the one book I HAD to get every year without fail.
That said it was due to Nana that as a preteen I picked up these books and like her was entranced with the love stories that took me away from my concrete jungle with their high level of love, emotion and passion even though I could never fully put myself in the shoes of the creamy skinned, blue eyed, blond heroines that the Greek tycoons fell for no matter how many times I put my tee shirt over my head and pretended it was my own flowing locks.
But it was what it was, and being lover of books, I read what was available in the genres I loved and that was women’s fiction and romance. Taking nothing away I still found many books, authors and stories I adored. It would be few and too far between, but I was thrilled when I found books like Terry McMillian’s Disappearing Acts and the iconic AA couple of Zora and Franklin who looked on the page like people I could possibly know or, hey, even maybe be one day, just way more passionate. I wanted more of these type of stories! And thankfully with that book’s success there was more. Many more, but sadly not nearly enough.
The #WeNeedDiverseBooks hashtag and movement has been making great strides since it was started and does so much for children’s literature discussion and I hope landscape and I’d love for that to continue into romance and all genres of literature. It saddens me so much when I see how disproportionate the bestseller lists are when it comes to authors of color. Now I’m not sure I know the fix to this problem as I don’t think there is one fix all as the problem has come from years and years of the “norm” being books by Caucasian writers and book by writers of color being labeled as other and shelved separately if picked up by a mainstream publisher. And if not picked up by a publisher then self-publishing being the other option for an author of color where discoverability is even more difficult. So with these obstacles I think the fix will take a not so subtle shift of the norm being truly diverse catalogs put out by publishers. And by diverse that means having more than 1 or 2 offerings by authors of color a month and consistently giving equal presence and retail marketing money to authors of color. That way when the public goes looking for their next read the offerings truly look like a rainbow and instead of the “right” choice being subliminally made for them.
It would be great to also address the lack POC staffing in publishing. Not to mention but to mention the fact that African American college educated women are the largest group of readers in the country so why not service them and stop leaving money on the table?
This year the need for the #WeNeedDiverseRomance hashtag and the movement has been brought home even more with what has been going on all over the country. From the awful police shootings and targeting of black men, women and children to the most recent horrific event in Charleston at Emanuel AME. How many times have we asked the question or shouted the rally call #BlackLivesMatter? How sad is it that we have to ask this question and remind people of this fact in the first place? But the truth is too often POC color are looked at as so called “thugs” before they are looked on as regular citizens with all the rights that come with that label. I think having more men and women of color lifted up as heroes and heroines from early on in literature is one way this perceptions can change. We can also go far with changing these perceptions on the big and small screen but that is a post for another day.
Sidebar: If you are looking for another great hashtag to follow please check out #WOCRomance and also check out Rebekah Weatherspoon’s @WOCInRomance on twitter and tumblr where she highlights new offerings from women of color in romance.
I’ve gone on long enough but I want to finish by saying that I know #WeNeedDiverseRomance will mean different things to different people and that is fine and as it should be. This post is about why I started the hashtag. Your perception is your reality as mine is mine. #WeNeedDiverseRomance is also shouting out to the persons with disabilities and the LGBTQ and transgender community. We are all here, all having been marginalized and all fighting the good fight for our truths to be told. I’m just the one here today rambling on about why I started the hashtag with a tweet on a day back when I was feeling low in my grief watching what was going on in the world and and missing my grandmother terribly. The response has been overwhelming and humbling and I’m honored that the hashtag still continues today and to that I say tweet on. Tweet on until the hashtag seems silly and redundant because we are truly equal and not segregated and all is well because finally well and truly do have Diverse Romance. Thank you.
Early tweets for #WeNeedDiverseRomance
Click the blow links to order your Tee!
P.S. I’ll always love you Nana and will forever thank you.
I’ve been holding on to this news for a little while and I’m so happy to now be able to share it far and wide (social media pun totally intended). I’ve been signed on to write a novella called FRIENDING THE FASHIONISTA for Samhain Publishing under the fabulous executive editor Latoya Smith who I adore and have been wanting to work with for so long. FRIENDING will be the first in my Flirty Fashionista series, marrying my love of fashion and romance.
I can’t thank Latoya enough for taking me on and my fantastic agent Rachel Brooks from the L. Perkins Agency for making it all happen. Thank you ladies for helping to make my publishing dreams come true.
Now let me get to writing… after a dance just a little but more.
All the best,
gif fm reaction gifs.com
Those in the know will recognize the nod the Notorious B.I.G. in my blog title. Those who don’t, I’m sorry about that, it’s the lyric that’s been running through my head for the last week or so that along with the probably much more appropriate, gospel lyric, “I’m so glad they prayed for me.” Both are almost equally fitting to my monumental feelings right now.
A little over a week ago, after more years than I’d now care to admit (I’m getting up there ya’ll) I got my first ever CALL. You know the one that all writers dream of and daydream about and make up elaborate stories around. Well, nowadays THE CALL can oftentimes come via email but this one actually did come on the phone.
But before the CALL I did receive an email from my new rock star agent, Rachel Brooks, with the L. Perkins Agency with the subject line: CAN I CALL??? In all caps. And her being the amazing magical intuitive fairy she is, knowing me oh-so-well for the neurotic I am, she put in the email that she had good new and a super fun gif of two women in a lather of excitement because she also knows I love a gif way too much.
I quickly answered her back, yes, and to that Rachel called and let me know that after so many years of trudging my way, I had received an offer from the amazing Selena James for a 3 book deal plus a Novella with Kensington Book’s Dafina imprint. Hold the phone!
What the- Get. Out. Of. Town!
Here is the official announcement from Publishers Marketplace.
I am over the moon right now and so thrilled to be welcomed into this new publishing home. Not to mention, but to mention, being humbled and honored to be in the presence of so many talented writers who have come before me at Dafina. Talk about blown away.
I know my late Nana is smiling wide right now. Her prayers and mine plus those of my mother and all my family and friends have been answered and I hope to make her and the rest of them very proud.
Thank you all, and especially my ever patient Dear DH, so much for all your continued support and love.
I can’t wait to see what the next few years bring us!
All the best with all my heart,