Spotlight on Nia Forrester and her new release, FOUR

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Some of you already know that Nia Forrester is one of my favorite authors. I 1-click all of her books and I’m never disappointed. As soon as I found out she was releasing FOUR, I made sure to pre-order it. Get to know Nia and FOUR.

Screen Shot 2018-10-06 at 09.39.12When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer? 

I don’t know that writing begins as a realization. I just know that I always have. From the time I could string together coherent sentences and write them down, that’s what I did. I remember writing something like poetry when I was about four. Something about raindrops and the sounds they made. I only remember because I had an aunt who was so impressed, she acted as though I’d split the atom and kept reciting the poem to everyone and saying how amazing it was. I guess that makes her my first reviewer. 

Which authors have been your literary inspiration? 

Some writers I admire are Donna Tartt for her keen insights into human nature; Anne Rice for her rich detail, Agatha Christie for her tightly woven plots, Stephen King for his ability to use simple almost mundane prose to convey situations that are anything but mundane and also his ability to create equally fascinating characters as plots. And more recently, I’ve enjoyed Lisa Jewell and Peter Swanson’s mystery suspense novels.  My classic favorites are Nella Larsen and Zora Neale Hurston. My by-far favorite independent author is Jacinta Howard, because she doesn’t just share characters and their stories but portrays a world that’s rarely seen in contemporary fiction – young, Black, talented, and socially-conscious hipsters (who sometimes fall in love with each other).

What’s a typical writing day like for you? Could you describe it for us?

I wake up thinking about writing, and where the characters and story were when I last left them. I start counting in my head all my other obligations for the day, and the hours I can spend writing. I think about the characters as I shower (which is where some really great ideas come, interestingly) and when I get out, I may scribble down the thoughts that came to me. I work a day job, so I don’t write (much) while there. But when I get home, I go immediately to my computer and turn it on. I set the intention to write, even if I don’t get many words down. But on average, I think I get about 2,000—3,000 per evening on paper. And maybe about 1,000 of those words survive the evening.

Writing CaveWhere is your favourite place to write?

My home office. Sometimes in my bed, if I use my iPad or Surface. Things don’t work out well when I write from my bed.

Which themes recur in your writing? 

My most frequently recurring theme, I think, is that imperfections and even glaring flaws in who a person is, or was, shouldn’t deny them a chance at happiness. Another would be that, contrary to popular wisdom, you can become your best self through and with another person; and there is no rule that says you have to self-perfect before finding love, and growing in love. I also like to insert a lot about how our families can make us, and how we can make our own families.

What inspired the stories in FOUR? How did FOUR come into being?

Quite honestly, FOUR is my gift to readers. The characters in that book are the ones that they ask about the most, who they constantly refer to over and over again, and who, I think resonated with the largest group of people. So, though I have other stories an ideas that I am eager to get to, I wanted to give my readers deep thanks, for reading about these people and their lives, for loving them, and for letting me know they loved them.

Of the four couples in focus in FOUR, is there one that you would call your favourite? Why?

I think Tracy and Brendan. Because Tracy is so outwardly difficult to love, even while she loves fiercely, and permanently. And because Brendan is her soulmate, her complementary other half who could not be more different from her, and could not be more perfect for her.

Many writers have said they’ve found it difficult to focus on writing in the current political and social climate. Has our current state of affairs affected your writing? 

It is difficult to think about relationships and love in a time when we’re having so much difficulty relating to each other. I can focus on writing only if I incorporate some elements of our time into what I write. I can’t write as pure escapism, and I suspect that the readers who dislike my work may dislike it in part because it doesn’t offer that pure escape. When I write, the people in my books may lie, cheat on partners, make ill-considered decisions, have sketchy pasts, or are just plain stupid. They also interact with the world as we do. They confront racism, colorism, classism, homophobia, abuse … So, I can focus, but the work definitely takes on a darker, more edgy tone in times like this.

Is there a story you would love to tell but haven’t dared to write yet? Tell us about it. Do you think you’ll ever write it?

I want to write a period piece. About what it was like to be Black in America in the early 1900s, when there we were almost one generation past Emancipation, and beginning to embrace the idea of having full agency, or ”freedom.” I want to write a story centered on the journey, hopes and dreams of a young woman in that time, her work, her loves, her ambitions. I may write it, but it’s so perfect in my head that it’s tough to make the leap to putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard).

What’s next for you? Upcoming 2019 releases? Events?

I may do two events in 2019. Wine with Writers, which I do with Lily Java, Rae Lamar and Jacinta Howard, and one other, as yet to be determined.  As far as upcoming releases, I have three or four that I know I want to do, and plan to continue writing my ’Shorts’ as inspiration strikes me.

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Four couples, four transitions, four seasons of marriage …

Grace

Most couples wouldn’t have weathered one mistake of the kind Shawn made when he and Riley first got married, let alone emerge with a commitment that’s stronger, a beautiful family and a love that’s even deeper. Is there any way their relationship can survive mistake number two?

Balance

Whatever Brendan wants, Brendan gets. It’s an arrangement Tracy doesn’t mind, because he provides everything she needs: love, financial security and the comfort of never having to work outside the home. But now, the most important thing she wants, he doesn’t have the time—or maybe even the will—to give. With a relationship built on giving all of herself, is it fair to now ask for a piece back?

Growth

Robyn’s career is in a growth-spurt just as Chris’ seems to be at its natural end. No longer empire-building, he’s struggling with his new reality, and the need for a sense of purpose separate from his work. His wife seems way too busy to notice. That is, until someone else does. 

Renewal

Once a mistress, now just a suburban wife and working mother, Keisha doesn’t recognize herself most days. The problem is, Jayson doesn’t either. If he’s reading her right, she wants out. And unless she’s mistaken, he might not mind too much if she decided to go.

The ‘Commitment’ series finale.

On Sale October 21

Pre-OrderEnter to Win

About Nia Forrester

Nia Forrester lives and writes in Philadelphia, PA where, by day, she is an attorney working on public policy and by night, she crafts woman-centered fiction that examines the complexities of life, love and the human condition.

She welcomes feedback and email from her readers at authorniaforrester@gmail.com or tweets @NiaForrester.

 

AUTHOR SITEFACEBOOKTWITTERGOODREADS | AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

 

Getting to know… Carol Cooper

Welcome back! It’s NaNoWriMo month and I’ve been busy the last few days trying to meet my daily word count goal. Hope it’s going well for all you fellow Wrimers! Let’s take a little NaNoWriMO break and get to know another writer. This time we’re sitting down with Carol Cooper. Carol is a British author, journalist, and doctor. She practices medicine in London and writes on health for The Sun, Britain’s best-selling newspaper. After a string of parenting books and an award-winning medical textbook, she turned to writing fiction. Her novels are all about 30-somethings looking for love, and they’re laced with inside medical knowledge. Carol’s latest novel, Hampstead Fever, follows the intertwined lives of six Londoners as emotions boil over one hot summer. You can find it at Amazon and other retailers, and in bookstores in Europe. So get comfortable, grab a cup of java or a glass of wine and let’s get to know Carol Cooper!

 

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Today’s guest, Carol Cooper

Carol, thanks for taking time to hang out with us. Let’s start off by talking about where you’re from. Now I’m a born and bred Philadelphia girl, but I think you mentioned that you’re from a little of everywhere. 

My background is international as my mother had Lebanese and Syrian origins, and my father was British. I was born in London and lived in Egypt until I was eight years old, when my mother and I went to live in the USA. I was in Washington, DC, for more or less 10 years, though there were periods of time in Europe during my high school years. I then studied medicine at Cambridge University, and now live and work in London and Cambridge. The London apartment is in Hampstead, in the heart of the area where my novel Hampstead Fever is set. I don’t always find much time for leisure pursuits, but the riverbank always beckons.

I love London. It’s got to be one of my favorite places in the world–and Hampstead is such a beautiful area. And I love it that you set your novel in Hampstead. I haven’t had a chance to read Hampstead Fever yet.  For readers who are new to Carol, I’m going to share the blurb now: 

hampstead-fever-final-ebook-coverA heatwave in London and trouble is brewing…

Chef Dan should be blissfully happy. He has the woman of his dreams and a job in a trendy Hampstead bistro. But his over-anxious partner, engrossed in their baby, has no time for him now.

Stressed doctor Geoff finds solace in the arms of a moody actress. Journalist Harriet’s long-term relationship with Sanjay hits the buffers, leaving each of them with serious questions to answer. Meanwhile single mother of four Karen misses the intimacy of marriage, but lacks the appetite for a proper relationship.

Passion and panic rise in the heat, but who can spot the danger signs?

Okay, you’ve got me hooked–I’ve one-clicked it on Amazon, so it should be in my Kindle now.  Let’s talk a little about writing. I think I always knew I wanted to be a writer–what about you? When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

I was 100% sure by the time I was in my first year at university. As a child, I had wanted to own a button shop, and as a teenager my heart was set on becoming a nuclear physicist. Of course, when I first embarked on a novel at college, it never got off the ground because I knew nothing of life at the time, except how to pass exams.

I know what you mean about trying to write a novel in college and not having enough life experience. I never finished any of the novels I started in college. They just weren’t very good and it was mostly due to not having enough experience that the story or the characters even mattered. 

That’s exactly what I mean. A writer needs life experience in order to write something that’s interesting.

Was there a particular author or book that inspired you to become a novelist?

I’ve read a lot of inspiring books, and have been lucky enough to meet some great authors, but it was the queen of British crime fiction, the late Ruth Rendell, who convinced me to stick at novel-writing. She was the tutor on a writing course that I attended in the mid-1990s. By then, I was doing a lot of health journalism and already had some non-fiction books in the pipeline, but I had a hankering to write novels. It was Ruth Rendell who pointed out my strong points as well as my weaknesses, and persuaded me to keep going.

I am in awe. I love Ruth Rendell’s novels. I would have  loved to take a writing course with her. Her novel, A Dark Adapted Eye, is on my list of all-time favourite novels. Speaking of Ruth Rendell, she often tackled some very serious and controversial topics in her novels. Are there any subjects that are taboo for you when it comes to reading or writing? 

I’m an animal lover, so I would say cruelty to animals. It’s not something I’m very interested in reading or writing about.

I totally agree with you. I have a hard time even reading newspaper articles about cruelty to animals. And I doubt I’ll ever feature it in any of my novels. So do you think fiction address topical social issues? Some readers say they only read to escape and don’t want to be reminded of racism, social inequality, etc when they open a book. What’s your take on this?

I believe it should. Books that ignore racism and other forms of injustice aren’t doing their thing, and they’re not realistic either. Even romantic novels need a toe-hold in the real world.

Yes! That’s how I feel too. Even when I read to escape, I want to feel that the world I am reading about it realistic. What about social media? Do you think today’s authors need it to survive?

Social media can take up a lot of time without necessarily selling any books. But today’s readers really do want to know more about authors and about the world around the books they read, so I think it’s almost essential for a writer to be busy on at least one social media platform, and to interact. I’m most active on Twitter and Facebook, and I dabble with Pinterest and Instagram.

Me too. I am a Pinterest junkie. I use it for inspiration. I have to rein myself in sometimes. It’s the same with Facebook. I have to make sure I focus and don’t get too sucked into it. Let’s talk writing spaces. Do you have a favourite place to write? 

It’s not exactly a writing space, but I love to write beside the river Cam in Cambridge (the one in England). It’s a place with a rich literary heritage, and it’s also where I was a student. I find it uplifting to be by the banks of the river with a notebook and pencil, perhaps under a weeping willow. These days Cambridge plays host to hordes of tourists, but you can still find spots where there are just swans, geese, grazing cattle, and the occasional boat going by.

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A slice of paradise in Cambridge

I don’t blame you. That is one stunning view. I could sit there and dream and plot… Now, I know most authors have a favourite character. Which of your characters is your favourite?

I love almost all my characters, though Laure and Geoff really stand out: Laure and Geoff. Laure, being half Lebanese, is insecure despite her career as a hot-shot lawyer, and she has a lot of uncertainty about her cultural identity. Geoff is special because, as a doctor, he finds it challenging to deal with the minutiae of present day medical practice that take up so much time when all he really wants to do is made people better. But there’s also Sanjay, who’s impulsive, inquisitive, loyal, and funny, and loves music…. Can I have three favourites?

Of course you can! 🙂 I think I have two or three who my favourites. It depends on my mood.

I’m always curious which authors other authors read. Who would you recommend to people looking for someone new to read?

Three British authors really stand out for me: JJ Marsh, Clare Flynn, and Jane Davis. These indie authors have an international flavor, especially Marsh and Flynn, and I think their stories will all resonate with a very wide readership. I’d especially recommend Human Rites which is a detective novel by JJ Marsh, The Green Ribbons by Clare Flynn, and Jane Davis’s I Stopped Time, or her latest title My Counterfeit Self.

 

 

I’m going to add those to my TBR List. Carol, it’s been so nice chatting with you. Before we finish off our session, what advice would you give to novice writers?

Keep writing, even when you don’t feel like it. Whatever shape your thoughts are in, get them down. You can refine a rough draft later, but it’s mighty hard to edit a blank page.

Thanks again for joining us today, Carol! Peeps, make sure you follow Carol so you can find out what she’s up to and stay up to date on when her next book is coming out.

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Cover Reveal: Bossman by Vi Keeland

BOSSMAN

(A standalone novel)

A Contemporary Romance novel

New York Times & USA Today Bestselling Author Vi Keeland

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RELEASING JULY 18TH!

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boss man cover

Cover designer: Sommer Stein, Perfect Pear

Model: Gilberto Fritsch

Blurb

The first time I met Chase Parker, I didn’t exactly make a good impression.

I was hiding in the bathroom hallway of a restaurant, leaving a message for my best friend to save me from my awful date.

He overheard and told me I was a bitch, then proceeded to offer me some dating advice.

So I told him to mind his own damn business—his own tall, gorgeous, full-of-himself damn business—and went back to my miserable date.

When he walked by my table, he smirked, and I watched his arrogant, sexy ass walk back to his date.

I couldn’t help but sneak hidden glances at the condescending jerk on the other side of the room.  Of course, he caught me on more than one occasion, and winked.

When the gorgeous stranger and his equally hot date suddenly appeared at our table, I thought he was going to rat me out.

But instead, he pretended we knew each other and joined us—telling elaborate, embarrassing stories about our fake childhood.

My date suddenly went from boring to bizarrely exciting.

When it was over and we parted ways, I thought about him more than I would ever admit, even though I knew I’d never see him again.

I mean, what were the chances I’d run into him again in a city with eight million people?

Then again…

What were the chances a month later he’d wind up being my new sexy boss?

About the Author

vi keeland

Vi Keeland is a native New Yorker with three children that occupy most of her free time, which she complains about often, but wouldn’t change for the world. She is an attorney and a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, & USA Today Best Selling author.  Over the last three years, eleven of her titles have appeared on the USA Today Bestseller lists and four on the New York Times Bestseller lists.  

 

Links

Author Vi Keeland

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/groups/ViKeelandFanGroup/

https://www.facebook.com/vi.keeland

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Vi-Keeland/435952616513958

Website

http://www.vikeeland.com

Twitter

@vikeeland

https://twitter.com/ViKeeland

Instagram

@Vi_Keeland

http://instagram.com/Vi_Keeland/

Goodreads

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6887119.Vi_Keeland

Additional Books by Vi Keeland

Standalone novels

The Baller

Amazon ➜ amzn.to/1PBF2hG

iBooks  ➜  http://bit.ly/iBooksBaller

B&N ➜  http:// bit.ly/BarnesBaller

Kobo ➜  http:// bit.ly/KoboBaller

Google Play ➜ http:// bit.ly/GoogleBaller

Stuck-Up Suit (co-written with Penelope Ward)

Amazon:  http:// http://amzn.to/1VK66ll

iBooks: http://apple.co/1Qbwy57

B&N: http:// bit.ly/1UC8wDC

Kobo: http:// bit.ly/1RJdUif

Cocky Bastard (co-written with Penelope Ward)

Amazon ➜ http://amzn.to/1LfN3fc

iTunes ➜ http://apple.co/1PffE2J

Kobo ➜ http://bit.ly/1UxCSUO

B&N ➜ http://bit.ly/1EjxNpY

Left Behind (A Young Adult Novel)

http://www.amazon.com/Left-Behind-Vi-Keeland-ebook/dp/B00OJM92LI/

First Thing I See

http://www.amazon.com/First-Thing-See-Vi-Keeland-ebook/dp/B00AWXY3HG

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/first-thing-i-see-ms-vi-keeland/1114703332

Other books from Vi Keeland

Life on Stage series (2 standalone books)

Beat

http://www.amazon.com/Beat-Vi-Keeland-ebook/dp/B00ZOMUV12/

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/beat-vi-keeland/1121715501

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/beat/id983959123

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/beat-5

Throb

http://www.amazon.com/Throb-Vi-Keeland-ebook/dp/B00SS2RYBU

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/throb-vi-keeland/1121112695

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/throb-4

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/throb/id948747986

MMA Fighter series (3 standalone books)

Worth the Fight

http://www.amazon.com/Worth-Fight-Vi-Keeland-ebook/dp/B00FLG5B9S

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/worth-the-fight-vi-keeland/1117014180

http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/worth-the-fight

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/worth-the-fight/id805540252

Worth the Chance

http://www.amazon.com/Worth-Chance-Vi-Keeland-ebook/dp/B00I2UKQOK

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/worth-the-chance-vi-keeland/1118634058

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/worth-the-chance/id813714461

http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/worth-the-chance

Worth Forgiving

http://www.amazon.com/Worth-Forgiving-Vi-Keeland-ebook/dp/B00MWL78EG

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/worth-forgiving-vi-keeland/1120173153

http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/worth-forgiving

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/worth-forgiving/id906130022?ls=1&mt=11

The Cole Series (2 book serial)

Belong to You

http://www.amazon.com/Belong-You-A-Cole-Novel-ebook/dp/B00BUTCXLE/

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/belong-to-you-vi-keeland/1114962845

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/belong-to-you/id639401754

http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/belong-to-you

Made for You

http://www.amazon.com/Made-You-A-Cole-Novel-ebook/dp/B00DPWVKS6

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/made-for-you-vi-keeland/1115883225

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/made-for-you/id84550637

http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/belong-to-you

 

Getting to know… GL Thomas

Hi everyone! It’s time for another session of Getting to know… Today’s author is GL Thomas–Guinevere is the G. Libertad is the L. Seems fitting to go by G.L. Tomas as twin coauthors with a mission. They’re mostly known by their platform, Twinja Book Reviews, a review blog that supports and promotes diversity in young adult and speculative fiction titles, but with time, they hope to cross genres successfully with their romance debut Same Page.

Author PhotoSo great to have you both here! Let’s get down to business: tell us a little about yourselves. 

Well this one is wacky because even though we go by one pen name, we’re actually two people! Our pen name is G.L. Tomas and the G.L. is short for Guinevere and Libertad. We’re a twin writing duo who have always had a penchant for diversity in books, no matter the genre and we even have two book blogs dedicated to them, one for romance, the other for speculative fiction and YA.

Originally my sister and I are from Miami, Florida born of Cuban parents but we currently live in New Haven, Connecticut just steps from the Yale University campus.

All our lives we’ve always been interested in culture. Being that we are Afro-Latina, our racial identities have always come into question, so it always made us wonder about other people’s cultures growing up. Languages, food, dance, customs have always been things that have interested us about other people’s culture so I guess that’s more or less what inspired us to write books that center on people of different backgrounds other than the average American experience.

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We are kindred spirits. I’ve also always been interested in different cultures and grew up within walking distance of an ivy league university (University of Pennsylvania). When did you first know you both wanted to be authors?

Wow. This is simple. When I went on my quest to find a romance book that featured an Afro-Latina as the lead character and couldn’t find one. We figured, we might as well write our own. Now we plan on releasing three more books with Afro-Latina heroines this year.

I love it! I’ve got Same Page queued up on my Kindle, so I’ll be posting a review very soon. Are you working on a new book now? Can you give us a sneak peek of the plot?

Omg, we set our sights high this year. Our goal was to release 11 titles this year alone. All ranging in age categories(YA, NA, Adult)and genres(speculative fiction, contemporary and romance) but yes we are working on four books right now,lol. I know, I know we’re nuts but we hope to have all 4 out by the end of August. We’ll give you a jist of our faves.

Book 1: But I’m not A Robot – It’s an interracial light hearted romance centered on an Oklahoma Native living in NYC with just two issues, he’s Mormon and he’s a virgin. This book has been sitting in our heads for a while and we’re finally bringing it to life. We’ve always wanted to make a male virgin because virginity has always seemed to be a personal choice for only women, so we’re always trying to do something different to stand out from the crowd of already amazing books!

Book 2: The Unforgettables– This one’s a YA contemporary romance centered around two teens who love geeky things and try to balance feelings for each other and friendship. This one is a love child we’ve had for nearly ten years in our heads and yay! It features a Haitian American heroine and a Hapa(Half Japanese/half Welsh) hero who’s also a Buddhist, something I’ve never seen in a mainstream book before, which is also how my sister and I identify religion wise.

Both books sound great, so I will be keeping an eye out for them. What is your favorite part of being a writer? 

This one never gets old. When people tell us how naturally we weave culture into stories. Another is when we get emails telling us how amazing it was that we created a black girl who was better than Katniss in a YA fantasy(not my words,lol). It’s always been our dream to make stories for black women of all ages and words like that always drive us to write the next book!

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I love it! And, readers, in case you’re wondering which book we’re talking about it’s the Mark of Noba. So tell me, what do you think is the hardest part of being a writer? It’s not always easy, so how do you deal with it?

G: I can’t speak for Libertad, but culture tends to be the most difficult. I love showcasing Black women from a plethora of cultures. But that makes them harder to market. When the only market for books for Black women is African-American, what do you do when the couple in question happens to be a British-Ghanaian woman paired with an Afro-Puerto Rican?

The Black experience in the West is often limited to just African-American. I agree, that experience is the dominant one. Black folk who are Nigerian, or Cuban, Jamaican, Afro-Canadian, we often assimilate to the dominant Black culture in the West. There’s often no way around this. I love writing all Black women. Of all walks of life. But it’s often hard to market stories like these.

I have no way of combating it outside of hoping people who read our stories open their mind to an experience different from theirs. I’m always going to write Black women from all over the world. From different cultures, of different walks of life, and different experiences. Black unity is important to me. We’re often only separated by language/culture. I want so bad to be ok with the fact that my experience as a Black woman is different than a German-born Black woman, or a Canadian-born Black woman. So I hope people are open to it too.

What are you reading now?

I’m reading an audiobook called Black Rainbow by J.J. McAvoy and another audiobook in the Percy Jackson series. My sister and I are really obsessed with audiobooks right now! They’re so fun to listen to!

I keep trying to get into audiobooks, but it’ just never worked for me. Maybe I should give it a shot again. So tell me: which of your characters is your favorite?

G: My personal favorite so far has been a YA character we created named Sai Liber-Tetraphirmaportacheeq from The Mark of Noba. It was our debut novel, and as much as I regret using her as a guinea pig, people’s response to her encouraged my passion for difficult female main characters.

Women always have to be pleasant. Virginal. Easy to like. Tetra was my biggest fear, and she turned out to be the star of our series. The female characters who’ve followed her can be likeable in some ways, but they make questionable decisions that make readers disconnect with them. If we hadn’t used Tetra as our guinea pig, we would’ve never had the courage to make heroines like that.

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What’s your take on authors and social media? Is it vital to us?

Yes and no. I think we’re beyond the days of loving authors without knowing anything about them, but at the same time, you want to know you’re investing your money in someone who cares about most of the things you do. Twitter is the most time-consuming, but I think most authors should be on Twitter. Some of my favorite authors I’ve met on Twitter, and the opportunity to connect with them within minutes. I do however think there needs to be a balance of how much time an author uses on social media.

That balance is really important. I think there are days when I spend more time connecting with readers on social media than actually writing. I always have to limit myself.

Which authors would you recommend to people looking for someone new to read?

G: I have quite a few authors that push the typical envelope of the traditional romance reader. While I don’t connect to every single thing she writes, I feel as though Harper Miller is one of the few writers in Romance that goes beyond the typical boy meets girl story. As a QWoC I often feel as though there are a ton of writers who don’t take into account women aren’t always just attracted to men. That’s ok, but it’s disheartening. Rebekah Weatherspoon is also an author who’s not only queer friendly, but non-binary/gender non-conforming friendly. I understand the need to embrace femininity among Black women, but a lot of us feel pressure to, based on the way we’ve been viewed as women as a whole.

I want women of color, particularly Black women to know there are writers who take us in mind too. As far as story telling, I don’t think it’s proper not to suggest who’s blog we’re on–Kim Golden.

There’s the traditional way to put together in a story, and then there’s how people actually meet. I wish the single boy meets single girl always worked in real life, but life has an interesting way of putting two people together. Sometimes you find who’s right for you while you’re in a serious relationship. Sometimes you even realize monogamy doesn’t work for you. Maybe Baby features a heroine who wants children, but is in a relationship with someone who doesn’t want more than what he already has, so she’s forced to seek different things, despite thinking she’s happy. In the end, she ends up with someone she’s more equipped to be with, but if she hadn’t sought that out herself, she would’ve been stuck with the wrong person for the rest of her life.

Screen Shot 2016-05-27 at 07.13.53I don’t do recreational drugs, but I appreciate when writers aren’t afraid to push that envelope, because in real life, people smoke weed, they smoke, even do drugs harder than marijuana. Some people are troubled. Some people don’t deal with things by just pushing them away for another day. Life is complicated. Relationships are complicated. Things are complicated.

Thanks so much for the Maybe Baby shout out. It’s my personal favourite of everything I’ve written. A lot of people didn’t respond so well to the infidelity storyline. Which brings me to the next topic, taboos.Are there any subjects that are taboo for you when it comes to reading or writing?

Well this is somewhat of a tough question. First of all, my sister and I don’t find any topics “taboo.” But there are trends and topics we aren’t necessarily interested in writing just yet. The “surprise pregnancy/baby” trope. This is more or less a personal decision as my sister and I are much younger writers than our peers so motherhood isn’t something we ever think to include because it’s not something many of our characters desire. We’re branching out in “Adult” romances later in the year but our niche so far has been New Adult so we’re really attracted to what one would consider a “young love” story. Sometimes it feels awkward to put that in the equation.

Another is full on Erotica. For now, we’re sticking to steamy and sweet romances, but it’s still early in our careers as writers, so never say never!

So true! 🙂 While we’re on the subject of “taboo topics”, what do you think about fiction addressing topical social issues like racism, social inequality, etc when they open a book. What’s your take on this? Some readers say get turned off by books that take on these issues and that they read to escape, not to be reminded of the problems in the world around them.

Honestly this is the writer’s decision if they wish to include these topics. We personally like to address them. Because our releases so far are more in the NA classification, these things matter to readers who identify as “Millennials.”

My sister and I are Millennials so social issues like sexism, misogyny, misogynoir, privilege, class and racism are things we talk about every single day. The only books I read to escape are pure fantasies like Harry Potter or anything by Octavia Butler. When it comes to romance though I think it’s great when authors take the time out to address such issues because it rings true for me. But this again is a personal issue and we totally get why some writers just like to make it about the romance or story.

We really try to make our non-black, cisgender characters the allies we’d like to see in real life, so for us, it doesn’t seem natural not to add issues that are important to us. Because we believe you can fall in love and learn something at the same time, if that makes sense, lol.

What was the best piece of writing advice you ever received?

I’d definitely say it’s been your cover is your calling card. Cover must convey genre, tone and emotion. That it’s not supposed to tell “the story”. Only the blurb does that. Covers is always something I’ve never known a thing about, but my sister and I are going through all these changes and learning more about what sells and what doesn’t.

I am so with you there. I think a lot of writers don’t understand just how important the cover is. They try to do too much with it.

That’s it for this week! Thanks so much to Guinevere and Libertad for joining us today. I really enjoyed getting to know them better, and I hope you did too! 😀

Have a great weekend!

Blog Tour: Best Kept Secrets by Shelly Ellis

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coverSYNOPSIS

Between the fall-out from his father’s latest shady business dealings and his wife Charisse’s alcoholism, Evan Murdoch has his hands full. But he should be most concerned about the scandalous affair Charisse is having right under his nose–with his half-brother. Evan’s being pushed to the edge, and no one knows that better than Leila Hawkins…

Leila is back in Chesterton, divorced, penniless, and desperate enough to do anything to save her mother’s home from foreclosure–including turning to Evan, her former best friend. But Evan isn’t interested in friendship. Instead he makes Leila a shocking indecent proposal…

Meanwhile, Evan’s newlywed sister, Paulette, wants to be the perfect wife. But a blackmailing bad boy ex has reappeared in her life–and he’s threatening to reveal her most painful secret…

The scandals just won’t quit–and for everyone involved, desire, betrayal, and lies are all in a day’s work…

EXCERPT

Hey, sexy,” a female voice said from over Evan’s shoulder. He turned to find one of Paulette’s bridesmaids smiling up at him. She laid a warm hand on his arm. “Wanna dance, baby?”

“There you go! A distraction, Ev,” Terrence said. “Just what the doctor ordered! Go out there and get your groove on, boy!”

“Uh, I’m married,” Evan muttered to her, holding up his ring finger and ignoring his brother. He returned his gaze to the ballroom.

“So! I’m not asking you to run away with me! I’m just asking you to dance,” the bridesmaid persisted. She wrapped an arm lazily around his shoulders. “Come on! Dance with me!”

Evan narrowed his eyes down at her.

Her name was Angie. Or was it Amy? Something that begins with an A, he thought.
Loose curls had fallen out of her chignon and one lock hung limply over her heavy-lidded, glazed brown eyes. One of the straps of her satin dress was hanging off her shoulder, revealing the lace bra underneath.

If he had wanted to dance with a drunken woman tonight, he would have just asked his wife for a twirl on the dance floor.

“Look, why don’t I do this?” he asked, gently shifting the young woman toward the bar counter. “Instead of us dancing, why don’t I get you a cup of coffee?” He then motioned to get the bartender’s attention.

“I don’t need a cup of coffee,” the bridesmaid argued. “I said I wanna dance!”
She then shoved away from Evan and turned, snagging the heel of one of her stilettos in the hem of her dress. She stumbled forward with arms flailing wildly.

“Oh!” Terrence shouted. “There she goes!”

Both brothers caught her just before she tumbled.

“You got her?” Terrence asked, shifting her toward his older brother.

Evan nodded, slowly bringing her back to feet. “Yeah, I got her.”

The bridesmaid gazed up at Evan and Terrence woozily. She slumped against the older brother’s broad shoulder. “I don’t . . . I don’t feel so well. I think I’m gonna be sick.”

“Sick?” Terrence exclaimed. He eased back and pointed at his tuxedo. “Oh, no! Not on this! This is a Tom Ford.”

“You’re a real prince, Terry,” Evan murmured sarcastically. He then returned his attention to the bridesmaid. “Let’s get you out of here. I’ll get you to the ladies’ room. All right?”

She closed her eyes and weakly nodded.

Evan guided her across the crowded ballroom to the double doors, drawing a few curious stares from wedding guests. There was nothing he hated more than making a scene. Having a woman besides his wife clinging to him was bound to cause some talk, but he couldn’t let her stumble drunkenly around the reception, or worse—lose her five-star dinner right there on the parquet dance floor. Like with his wife, Charisse, it was better to spirit away the bridesmaid to a place where she could recover privately. Terrence was obviously no help so Evan would have to take care of this himself.

Evan stepped into the carpeted foyer with his arm wrapped around her waist and her arm draped around his neck.

“I’m really going to be sick,” she murmured again.

“I know. I know. I’m working on it,” he grumbled, glancing frantically around him.
He struggled to remember where he had last seen a women’s bathroom. Finally, he saw a few women streaming out of a door on the other side of the foyer’s winding staircase. He walked toward them and started to ask if one of them could help him, but when the women’s bathroom door opened again, the words halted in his throat.
Leila Hawkins stepped out of the tiled bathroom into the foyer. She dropped a compact into her clutch purse, snapped the steel clasp shut, and looked up to find Evan staring at her. Her mouth fell open in shock.

“Evan,” she whispered breathlessly.

His jaw clenched. “Leila.”

As much as he hated to admit it, Leila was as gorgeous and sexy now as she had been ten years ago. The only thing that was different was her hair. It was shorter now, chin-length and cut in a fashionable bob. He also noticed that she was wearing heels, something she had never worn when they were younger because she had said she didn’t know how to walk in them.

Her honey-hued skin glowed under the foyer’s chandelier lights, and she looked elegant and alluring in the simple pale yellow cocktail dress that hugged every delectable curve in just the right place.

She doesn’t have a right to look this good, he thought. He’d prefer for her to be a hunchbacked cyclops, or at least to have gained forty pounds or more. Then he wouldn’t have to worry about reacting to her like the way his body was responding now.

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Shelly Ellis HeadshotAUTHOR BIO

Shelly Ellis is a NAACP Image Award-nominated women’s fiction/romance author and creator of the Gibbons Gold Digger series. Her fiction writing career began when she became one of four finalists in a First-Time Writers Contest when she was 19 years old. The prize was a publishing contract and having her first short-story romance appear in an anthology. She has since published five novels and has been chosen as a finalist for 2015 NAACP Image Award in the Literary Fiction Category, 2012 African American Literary Award in the romance category, and won a 2013 Angie Award.

She is married and lives in Maryland with her husband and their daughter.

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New Release: Livvy – Book 4 in the Choisie Series by Lori L. Otto

ChoisieCompletedSeries-Page-CoverIf you love YA fiction and haven’t discovered Lori L. Otto’s Choisie series, now’s your chance. The series, which started with Contessa, is now complete with the December 9th release of Livvy! Find out why so many readers are head over heels for the Choisie series.

Teasers

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What Readers Are Saying

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Where to Purchase the Livvy and the Choisie series

Contessa (Choisie 1)

Kindle: http://bit.ly/ContessaJackson

iBooks: http://bit.ly/ContessaiBooks

Nook: http://bit.ly/ContessaNook

Paperback: http://bit.ly/CONpaperback

Olivia (Choisie 2)

Kindle: http://bit.ly/choisie2

iBooks: http://bit.ly/OliviaiBooks

Nook: http://bit.ly/OliviaNook

Paperback: http://bit.ly/OLIpaperback

Dear Jon (Choisie 3)

Kindle: http://bit.ly/DearJonKindle

iBooks: http://bit.ly/DearJoniBooks

Nook: http://bit.ly/DearJonNook

Paperback: http://bit.ly/DJpaperback

Livvy (Choisie 4)

Kindle: http://bit.ly/LivvyAmazon

iBooks: http://bit.ly/LivvyiBooks

Nook: http://bit.ly/LivvyNook

Paperback: http://bit.ly/LIVpaperback

And there’s even a giveaway!

https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/6fa401115/

 

What I Read When I Read About Love

Our Valentine's Day at the Avenue Hotel. Photo: Avenue Hotel, Copenhegen

Photo: Avenue Hotel, Copenhegen

I know, I am a few days late–but I was in Copenhagen celebrating Valentine’s Day with my gorgeous hubby. I won a Valentine’s Day stay at Avenue Hotel, a design boutique hotel in Copenhagen’s Fredriksberg district. The stay included a cozy tower room at the hotel (breakfast included), champagne, pastries from Strangas Dessert Boutique and an amazing dinner at Höst. Needless to say, inspiration came to me while I was there and there will definitely be a a follow-up to Maybe Baby.

But while I was there, I starting thinking about which books would be on my Books About Love 2014 list–if I had one.

 

Sex in the Title CoverSex in the Title by Zack Love – a satirical rom-com set in New York City in the 1990s that revolves around the romantic adventures (and misadventures) of five guys who think they are going to conquer the world. Since it’s set in the 90s, the New York we find is pre-smart phone, the Twin Towers are still standing and there’s a wonderful air of nostalgia (perfect for someone like me who was a teenager in the 1980s and in college and grad school in the 1990s). Contrary to the title, the book is not all about sex. It’s more about the pie in the sky ambitions and goals we set for ourselves when we’re young and naive and what happens when we are finally faced with reality. Now, how can this be a rom-com then? Well, Zack Love interweaves the tales of five friends and their pursuit of love. Yes, there are foibles, nothing is perfect–even the people who almost seem too perfect are just as flawed as you want them to be. This is a book with so many laugh-out-loud moments as you are reminded of your own romantic foibles and dreams of youth. Bravo, Zack!

 

cover-jod-webcover-joy-webJust One Day/Just One Year by Gayle Forman – Wonderful books about Allyson and Willem, who meet by chance in the UK during an open-air performance of Shakespeare and what happens when Willem convinces Allyson to do something unexpected–go to Paris with him even if it’s just for one day. What happens during that day and, in the next book, as they try to reconnect, is amazing. If you liked Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, you’ll love these books.

 

Is Marriage coverIs Marriage for White People?: How the African American Marriae Decline Affects Everyone by Ralph Richard Banks – The title alone is enough to stop you in your tracks but there is more to this book than meets the eye. It is an interesting study of love and marriage within the African-American community and how antiquated ideas of the black woman’s place in society had led to a decline in marriage within the community and the implications it has on US society. Banks questions why it is considered acceptable for African-American men to marry outside of their race while the same is not always true for African-American women. He also examines the mixed messages sent to young men and women by the media, their families, the church, etc about their place in society. So why do I consider it a book about love? Because quite a bit of the book examines why African-American women may maintain friendships or be attracted to men of other races but will not, or are reluctant to, pursue relationships with these men. Since I write a lot about interracial relationships, I’ve always been intrigued by the fact that social pressure can prevent someone from seeking love.

 

The-FLAVOURS-OF-LOVE-HB-654x1024The Flavors of Love by Dorothy Koomson – Dorothy Koomson has always said that what she writes is heart fiction–not simply women’s fiction. Her books are always about love and the choices we make because of love. This book is more suspense than romance–the story revolves around Saffron Mackleroy, a widow whose husband was murdered eighteen months prior to the start of the novel. On the outside, Saffron looks like she’s coping well with her situation–she’s even decided to finish writing the cookbook her husband was working on. But then her fourteen-year-old daughter Phoebe gets in trouble at school and confesses to something that begins to tear apart the semblance of normalcy Saffron is trying to maintain. And then the person convicted of killing Saffron’s husband begins sending her letters and claiming to be innocent. It’s easy to get hooked by The Flavors of Love. I know I did! Another great one, Dorothy! Can’t wait for your next book. 🙂

That’s it for now! What books would you put on your Books About Love list?

Nick Alexander, you are brilliant!

ImageThose of you who follow this blog know that I stumbled onto Nick Alexander‘s books thanks to a tweet. Yes, Twitter actually introduced me to new books and I will never regret following the link that led me to Nick. His books are amazing. And now Other Halves, the sequel to The Half-Life of Hannah, is available. I started reading it today and I adore it already! I will post a full review soon, but all I can say is that Nick never disappoints. 😀

So what is the plot? Now that Hannah has discovered the truth and fielded through the lies her ex-husband told her, she faces embarking on a new life in Australia with James. But can she do it without losing the love of her son? Intrigued? You should be. 🙂

I am about halfway through the book and I am hooked. Nick, you rock!

I should be done reading Other Halves in a couple of days and then I’ll post a proper review. Until then, rest assured, you should read The Half-Life of Hannah and then read Other Halves. You won’t be disappointed. 🙂

NaNoWriMo is coming…

Screen Shot 2013-10-23 at 2.27.25 PMIn a few days it will be that time again. That time when my friends will wonder if I’ve fallen off the face of the earth and my husband will be grumpy because I am not spending enough time with him. That time we call…NaNoWriMo.

For those of you unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo, it stands for National Novel Writing Month and–despite being called “national” it’s actually a global phenomenon. The goal? Write a 50,000+ word novel between 1 and 30 November. The prize? There is none–this is all about staying motivated and encouraging others to reach their goal while you reach yours. So if you think you have a book inside you, why not give NaNoWriMo a try? Just think how pleased you’ll be when you write “The End”. And this gives you a good excuse to be anti-social for a while. 😉

Screen Shot 2013-10-22 at 11.08.21 PMThis is going to be the ninth time I embark on NaNoWriMo, and I hope I finish on time. I’ve got a busy November ahead, so I will have to pace myself and make sure I finish my 1650 words/day. My novel this year will be entitled Near Enough to Hold. I have two very different story ideas swirling around in my mind, but I think I have a pretty good idea which of them I will write. And as always, I will post rough and very unedited chapters here, so you’ll be able to follow my progress.

I also made a mock-up of a cover to help me stay motivated. No, this isn’t the final cover. I don’t own the rights to this image. I am just using it as inspiration for when I write. Whenever you get stuck, you need something to “unstick” you, and I think this will do the trick.

If you think you’re ready to give NaNoWriMo a try, head over to the official website. There is still time to sign up and it doesn’t cost you a single penny! Even if you don’t finish, the fact that you tried is impressive enough! 🙂

Happy writing (and reading)!

 

The only thing that helps at times like this is buying books

It’s been a crazy two weeks. There is a lot going on at work, which means I am exhausted physically and mentally when I come home. And this is affecting my writing time. I wake up too tired to write. I come home too tired to write. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to read other people’s work instead but I find myself falling asleep on the sofa–not because the books are boring, but because I am tired. Ah well, at least I have Matera and my vacation in the US to look forward to in the coming weeks.

Anyway, I indulged in a little retail therapy and this is what I bought:

ImageMo’ Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove by Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson and Ben Greenman

I had to get this. Questlove and I come from the same town, my beloved Philadelphia. We both come from West Philly. We’re both creative–he’s a musical genius, I’m a writer. Really, it’s a wonder our paths haven’t crossed yet. 😉 But seriously, I am always drawn to books and movies set in my hometown. And since I am a Roots fan and I have always liked Questlove, I knew I needed to get a copy of his memoir. And then a few months ago, Nick Hornby was talking about Questlove’s memoir and I was even more intrigued. It wasn’t available yet and when I tried to preorder it here in Stockholm, I was met with blank stares from  bookstore staff. Of course, after I finally ordered it from Amazon UK, then every online bookstore in Sweden suddenly decided they could stock it as well. I don’t care. I have it now and the cover looks great. I’ve already sneaked a peek at a few pages and this is definitely my kind of book.

I haven’t started reading Mo’ Meta Blues yet but it is the next book on my To Read List. Maybe I will save it as something to read while I am in Philly and then give to my oldest niece as a source of inspiration. I want her to see that there is more to the world than the confines of our old neighborhood.

ImageThe other book I ended up buying is not new but I didn’t want to read it when everyone else was reading it because I really, really hate when other people see you’re reading the same book and then they feel compelled to inadvertently spoil it for you. So which book is it? Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I love a good mystery/thriller and I wanted to be able to read this without everyone else a) trying to convince me it was godhead, b) wanting to discuss it and reveal spoilers, c) wanting to talk about which Hollywood A-listers should play Nick and Amy. Luckily the Gone Girl hype in Stockholm has died down. I think everyone has found a new novel to gush about. I started reading it on Thursday and it’s as good as everyone assured me it was. I’ve decided I need to Gillian Flynn’s other novels (Dark Places and Sharp Objects) as well, so they are also on the To Read List for this autumn/winter. And what could be better to read in Stockholm–that city where the winter cloud cover is so thick you nearly forget there is a thing called the sun–than really tight mystery novels that play tricks with your mind? 🙂

So I think I am set for a few weeks. I am editing Maybe Baby again after making changes suggested by a beta reader. I’m also beta reading a friend’s novel. And I have to wait and see what the future has in store for me. If all else fails, at least I have my writing, Nanowrimo and my gorgeous husband. 🙂

Happy reading (and writing)!