My 10 fave books of 2015 and 5 I’m anxiously awaiting in 2016

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Heaven is a stack of good books! And a glass of wine!

 

Some people get excited about new handbags or shoes or guys with tattoos. I am such a book nerd. I get more excited about books. Though if you give me a hottie lumbersexual reading Garcia Marquez or some novel that I am also reading, well, I might get excited about that.

Anyway, I read a little over 50 books in 2015, so I thought I’d share with you ten of them that resonated with me.

  1. Haunted by Christina C. Jones
  2. Addicted Allison by Noelle Black
  3. Kilted for Pleasure by Melissa Blue
  4. Maldeamores by Mara White
  5. Love Is by Tia Kelly
  6. Falling Stars by Xio Axelrod
  7. Ivy’s League by Nia Forrester
  8. Coming Down by Carrie Elks
  9. Brunch at Ruby’s by D.L. White
  10. In the Nothing by Nia Forrester
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Yes, I am just as excited as this little cutie! Photo credit: forharriet.com

And which titles am I anxiously awaiting? You know there are more than five I can’t wait to read, but these are five that I am super excited about. 🙂

  1. Starlight by Xio Axelrod
  2. When I Was Invisible by Dorothy Koomson
  3. City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin
  4. Lily in the Middle by Nina Perez
  5. Getting Schooled by Christina C. Jones

So tell me: which titles are you anxiously awaiting in 2016? And which were your favorites of 2015?

Getting to know Noelle Black

Back in December I read a review of Noelle Black’s novella, Addicted Allison, and it intrigued me. It sounded exactly like my cuppa tea–a sexy story about a Black woman having an adventure and owning her sexuality. I tracked it down for my Kindle and I wasn’t disappointed. Once I finished reading it, I came into contact with Noelle Black, the talented author behind Addicted Allison, and convinced her to do an interview for my Getting to Know…series. So lean back, relax…and get to know Noelle Black.

Addicted_Allison_CoverWhat made you leave the US for Europe? Do you think you’ll stay in Europe or do you have plans of moving back to the US?

I left the US in 2006. My company had a contract position in the Greater London area. I applied for the position on a total whim, before then I didn’t have any intentions of leaving the US for more than 1 week at a time. Moving abroad permanently was so far from my mind but I ended up working in London for three years. When my contract was up, I wasn’t ready to move back to the States.
I appreciated the ease and affordability of travel in Europe as well as the work life balance. I was also deeply in love with a Scandinavian man at the time (my daughter’s father) and I didn’t want my time here to end. I made efforts to find a job in Europe and landed in Germany. I live in Berlin with my two-year-old daughter where I have a part- time job as a project manager and write in the evenings while she sleeps. I have no immediate plans on moving back to the States. I simply can’t hang with the standard two weeks vacation, paying for health care, relying on a vehicle and all the associate cost and the almost archaic parental benefits structure of a first world country. Germany is home for the foreseeable future.

How did you first begin writing Addicted Allison? Were you in a writers’ group or did you write on your own?

Totally wrote it on my own. I was inspired by the recent leaks celebrity nudes and the rise of revenge porn sites. I knew I wanted to write about a woman being slut shamed and being a victim of revenge porn, the story evolved from there. I gave myself a deadline as I wanted to have it on Amazon for Christmas. It took me a little more than 30 days to write it, despite laptop issues and a toddler who refused to go to bed at night. I would write from around 9 pm to 2 am each night. I had a good friend edit and proofread for me as well as check for inconsistencies in the story. I had another friend, give me pointers on self publishing and writing resources. I would have not completed the book with those two amazing women. They really encouraged me to finish.

One of the things that I loved about Addicted Allison was that so much of the story felt so authentic and reflected the realities of being a curvy black woman abroad. Did you use your own personal experiences as inspiration for Allison’s life?
Yes and no. Haha. I think when you write erotica, it is hard for people to separate your art and what they know of you personally as an individual. It is part of the reason why I write under a pen name, to isolate this brand from any other literature I have out there and as a figurative delineation.

Allison and I are similar in some ways and totally different in others. I am a full-figured natural Black woman who lives in Europe. I have had some amazing experiences with lovers while I traveled and her college relationship was very similar to my own. I have been in relationships with men who hid their love for fat women and some outright chubby chasers. I think I pulled so much from my personal life in the character development because I had limited time to complete the book. If I had more time I would have had the luxury of creating an entire universe totally different than my own. I didn’t have to research much because Allison and I share the same social position and are compared to the same standards of beauty and sexual expression as fat women of color.

I can say all the men in the book have been inspired by real life men. Stefano’s demeanor and ticks are based on a man I see fairly often. I would die if he knew what sexual proclivities I assigned him because I have no idea what he is into. I don’t even think of him in a sexual way! He is slight with freakishly small hands, but he has a certain swagger about him. Matthias is a culmination of men I have known/dated. I once was in love with a man who carried around the “shame” of adoring fat women like some sort of burden. He described breaking the news of his sexual preferences to his peers and family. He expected a sort of rejection and described it as living in the closet. I always found this peculiar, that he somehow thought loving a fat woman was more challenging than BEING an actual fat woman.

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If Addicted Allison were a movie, who would be in your dream cast?
Well I would play Allison, cause I want to have play-sex with Alexander Skarsgård, who I think would be the perfect Matthias. I also can’t think of any Black, plus size actresses who sport natural hair. It was really important for me that she be the antithesis of every sexual being I have seen in pop culture so far. She isn’t a white virgin on the path to discovering her inner goddess. Allison is a powerful black woman with a head full of coils who discovered what she desired in and out of the bedroom a long time ago.

Which books are on your To Be Read List?
Would you judge me if I told you I am not that big of a reader? I used to be, before my kid. These days I enjoy quick reads and the occasional long read online. I enjoy anything about female empowerment and sexual agency. I have heard good things about a book by Kristin Newman titled What I Was doing While You Were Breeding. It combines sex and travel, two of my favorite hobbies. Then again I am tired of the same old Eat Pray Love narrative by privileged women talking about their freedoms that aren’t necessarily extended to me as a woman of color.

How would you describe your writing process? Are you very structured or do you write by the seat of your pants?
I am structured with a twist. I start with a general plot and then the outline. I write summaries of what I want to happen to the character or how I want the story to develop in each chapter. I then go back and fill it in, starting with the easiest bits for me to write first. I find writing conflict difficult because I want the dialog to be realistic, so I tend to write that last.
Writing the flashback of the man with the baggy condoms went really fast for me, just because I found it entertaining to write and I think everyone has a story or two about a guy who overestimated his own endowments.

What advice would you give to any novice writers who are interested in writing erotic romance or erotica?
It’s advice I need to follow, you definitely have to market your book and find a way to stick out. The market is so overly saturated with tons of books, I have no idea how many are published weekly on Amazon but I am sure it’s significant.

Find a mentor or writing coach, someone to encourage you or bat ideas back and forth.

Google is your friend, you don’t have to be a sex dynamo to write sex scenes, I’m not. I read lots of message boards and Cosmo articles as research for certain sex acts. Also sex is just a piece of your story. Lots of my reviewers comment on how the book is intelligently written and they appreciated the plot. Of course there are people who just want to read about T&A but I think there are also people who like a side of humor and brains with their smut.

Author Noelle Black

Author Noelle Black

When you were writing Addicted Allison, did you have a playlist of music to inspire you? Could you share it with us?

I listened to a lot of Thom Yorke, Radiohead, PJ Harvey and Bjork while I wrote the book.

What other books or projects have you got in the pipeline?

Keep in mind my pipeline is long. I have so many irons in the fire, I have no idea when projects will come out the other end. I have some Sci-Fi stories that I am working on, those will be full length novels. I really grand ideas that I am developing, I’m a pretty big geek at heart. I also have some other short story ideas about plus size cam girls that will have a tie in to Allison’s story. I hope to have a portfolio of books with plus size Black women as the main character.

You teased us with an open-ended ending to Addicted Allison. What’s next for Allison and her Swede?

I struggle between writing a happily ever after or dissolving the relationship and setting Allison on a new journey. I do not want to make interracial relationships glamorous or issue free, they aren’t. I also don’t want to make life in Europe look like it’s worry free, cause it isn’t. Relationships, regardless of the color/culture of the couple have both positive and negative dynamics.

To make our couple ride off into the sunset would be expected, on the other hand, to destroy a relationship that is hardly seen in mainstream culture (fat woman with conventionally attractive man or worldly Black American woman with a Swedish hottie) is kind of a crummy thing for me to do as an author. Why can’t fat black girls have nice things? I am very torn which only delays the progress of the book.

I can promise the second book will be longer than the first. Readers were a bit annoyed it was so short. I can guarantee that Alison will have more mind-blowing sex and more drama.

Also Matthias’s past is a bit dark which I hinted at in the first book. In his quest for fulfilling his desires, he ventured into some sketchy activities which when revealed to the reader may not sit well with them. He is a good guy at the end of the day, but “good guys” are still capable of doing selfish and sometimes hurtful things.

Addicted Allison is available exclusively for Kindle.

Connect with Noelle on her website, Facebook and Twitter.

6 IR/MC love stories to read to get your heart racing for Valentine’s Day

shutterstock_152210192I’m not one of those women who usually get so worked up over Valentine’s Day. Hard to believe, right? Especially since I write romantic fiction. But I’ve never been a big fan of the commercial aspect of a day dedicated to love. It could also do with having had a high school boyfriend who’d break up with me just before Valentine’s Day and Christmas so he wouldn’t have to spend money on presents. Good thing I wised up and left him behind. But I do love reading (and writing) love stories, so I thought I’d give you some suggestions for IR/MC novels to get you in the mood for love. Are you ready?

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5: Again for the First Time by Raven St. Pierre

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What would you do if a stranger approached you and, instead of asking  you for directions, he asked you to marry him? That’s exactly what happens to Lissette when the very handsome Luke proposes to her on a very emotional afternoon when she’s just found out that her ex is now engaged and moving on with someone new.

What neither Lissette nor Luke expect is that she says yes. Suddenly she and Luke are embarking on a journey that has them married within two weeks of meeting.  Jumping into the unknown with nothing but blind faith and a burgeoning attraction for one another, their unconventional relationship leaves their friends and families wondering if they know what they’re doing. And the two must learn to get to know (and trust) one another–even when the odds are stacked against them.

It’s a quirky love story that–even with its improbable scenario–has you falling in love with Lissy and Luke and hoping their newfound love will stand the test of time. Raven St. Pierre does a great job of carrying the reader along the bumpy road of Lissy and Luke’s marriage. A great love story–sexy without being overly graphic, with two well-drawn characters whose flaws make you love them.

4: The Sweetest Taboo by Harper Miller

HarperMillercoverNow I am usually not very interested in BDSM novels, but Harper Miller has done something very interesting here by creating two characters who go into the relationship on equal footing–despite Rick being the dom and Micah being the sub. From the moment they meet in a New York City fetish club, it’s obvious that fate will pull strings and make sure these two will cross paths again.

Like I said, I don’t usually find BDSM novels very appealing, but Miller succeeds in creating two very intriguing characters in Rick and Micah. Also, she takes us into the heart of what has brought them into this world of submission and domination without making the reader lose sight of the fact that this is a love story–a very erotic love story, but a love story from beginning to end.

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3: Yours by Tia Kelly

Yours CoverIf you’re more in the mood for a quick read that’s smart, sexy and unputdownable, then this is the novella for you. A chance encounter between two people in need of a second chance at love, Yours chronicles how a one-night stand leads to something more for good girl Theresa Clarke and the very sexy, brooding Spaniard, Javier Fernandez.

After spending a very passionate night together, neither expects to see the other again, but–as is always the case with a good love story–fate decides to bring them together again. There’s off-the-chart chemistry between Theresa and Javier–and even when she tries to deny it, Theresa knows she cannot ignore the feelings she has for him. The same is true for Javier–the desire he feels for Theresa pushes him to pursue her, even when she initially says they cannot see one another or when she assumes all he wants from her is a glorified booty call. Sexy and smartly written, this is one must-read novella.

2: Addicted Allison by Noelle Black

Addicted AllisonI thought I was the only black woman writing sexy stories featuring black women and Nordic men, but Noelle Black has joined me. 😉 Her novella, Addicted Allison, is set in world of luxury hotels and the heroine, Allison, blows off steam after long work days as the creative director for a hospitality design firm by meeting men online for one reason alone–sex.

Enter Mattias, a Swede with a big personality and a love of curvy black women. Mattias is enthralled with Allison and all too soon he makes it clear he doesn’t want to share her with anyone else. Her sexy encounter with him has her questioning what she really wants…and could have her going down a very different path than she initially intended.

This is a cleverly written erotic romance that’s more than a just sexy story. It also goes into the expat experience from a black woman’s perspective and gives us an open-ended but satisfying ending that leaves room to explore more of Allison’s adventures.

1: Maybe BabyMaybe Tonight by me

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Maybe Tonight Cover for WPYes, yes, I know, this smacks of blatant self-promotion but Maybe Baby and Maybe Tonight fit the bill. I’m not going to review my own books, but I will tell you that you get to read both Laney and Mad’s sides of their love story–which definitely had an unusual start seeing as they met when she looking into finding a sperm donor to be the potential father of her future children. If you haven’t read Maybe Baby and Maybe Tonight, Valentine’s Day is the perfect excuse to get to know their stories and maybe even get hooked on their different sort of love story.

Happy reading!