#wingingit

I’m feeling the crunch.

In a little over three weeks The Alpha’s Dream will be live and ready for the world.  I’m excited, and terrified, and exhausted. All the things I thought I would be over-ish by now. Turns out, I was lying to myself. Not a habit I want to continue, so I’ll put that on my list of habits to break this year.

I make a lot of list.

Whatever it takes, right? Whatever it takes.

I’ve spent the last several months working my behind off to create The Alpha’s Dream. I love my work. I’m really happy with it…mostly. Lol. I don’t know that there will ever be a day where there won’t be something that I want to tweak about it.  Such is life as a writer. I hope I never lose the hunger for creating stories and then for making them better. It’s all part of my ever expanding dream.

It will continue to grow.

The closer I get to the end of this or rather the middle, the more attached I get to my characters. Their needs have grown with my understanding of them. They expand, and I relish their expansion.

I love that my hero, Nathaniel, is sure of himself, until his heroine, Euphoria, forces him to examine his most hidden resentments. I love that Euphoria doesn’t try to change him, and instead makes whatever uncomfortable choices she has to in order to keep them both in their comfort zone. It doesn’t work, because they want each other too badly. The fact is, when you are made for someone, attempting to walk away from that will never end well. It takes a little transformation and a lot of faith to come out happily ever after.

This book has become so many things for me. Hope. Labor of love. Confirmation. Affirmation, and so on and so forth. I have learned more about myself as I’ve crafted its pages than I intended too. That’s a good thing. What we love should reveal us to ourselves.

I hope everything I write has that effect on me. After all, there is nothing more dangerous than a settling into complacency. I don’t want to be the author who simp,y cranks out books with no regard as to their effects. I strive to keep that true always.

I want you to enjoy my book. I want you to read and re-read it because the story is good, and the love is real, and it reminds you of something you’ve wanted or have. I want you to come back for me. As we continue on this voyage together, I want you to know that my heart is in it.

 

Joy.

#DiversityinRomance

Love is so multifaceted that I think we sometimes take for granted the many identities it has. There is often an urge to one size fits all what romance looks like despite the variances in the people who look to fall in love. There is no safety in limiting the  way romance or love in general is glorified and we should work collectively to expand its reach to everyone.

My contribution to this is by writing Shifter romances with people of color driving the plot. primarily, my characters are African-American like me. However, I keep having characters of all nationalities pop up wanting their stories written. Some of them biracial, some of them Native American, Hispanic, and so on and so forth. They are all there, demanding acknowledgement of their existence. I want to acknowledge them all.

It feels like such a small thing. I’ve even been called petty because of it. Maybe it truly is petty. I’m not sure. What I am certain of is that representation in art and all forms of life is critical in adding to the richness of our lives.

Shifter Romances are not true stories. They are not reality meets romance as Urban fiction and other African-American Romances usually are for most of us. You’ll likely never walk out of your house and fall helplessly in love with a man who is half werewolf and occasionally shifts to his beasts form. I know that. I also know the power of whimsical thinking.

What drew me to Shifter romances wasn’t the idea that it could happen. It was how fun it felt to imagine. That though these heroes definitely had some very human flaws, they also had an exception that set them apart. It was the idea that of lifetime love that was so engrained in their DNA that despite their best efforts, they would find and forever hold on to the one.

That is powerful.

That is a night’s vivid sweet dream.

I wanted to hold on to that feeling forever.

As I continue to work on my characters I am find myself questioning if the only reason I think it is important to have heroes and heroines of color in these works is because I’m black. Somehow, it feels like my desire to see them should be validated by something else. I could write all night about validation, but that is something else. The truth is that I write my characters to look like me and people I love and that doesn’t need validating.

I look out of the landscape of self-publishers and other authors and I see that many others are taking the same leaps. They are also looking for a place that feels representative and often carving one out when they don’t find it. It is a tricky thing to create a space when you feel like there should already be one. Yet, someone must be a pioneer and go boldly forth.

My hope is that more and more of us will take the reins into our hands and push forward to create the diversity that we seek. It is worth it for ourselves and our children to fall in love with a myriad of love stories. Let there be countless romances. Let us them up and create a rainbow of writings about love in all races then let us consume them like sweet candy.

There will come a time where the hashtag #diversityinromance will be a throwback to an era long passed. Until then, I will write endlessly and hope that you will join me in reshaping the landscape so that it is more inclusive of those we reach for and who reach for us.

#HeroineIntroductions

Last week, I introduced our lovely hero Nathaniel Blanchard. The strong Alpha wolf is nothing without his loving mate. Today, meet the woman who makes him reconsider everything he ever believed about life long love – Euphoria “Euri” Atkins.

Euphoria Atkins, is a talented and curvy New Orleans transplant. After years in corporate America, she decided to venture out on her own and do the work she loves as a Graphic Designer. Business is slow, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t give every project her utmost attention.

She’s the type of woman who treats her friends like sisters and believes there are no coincidences. Smart, funny, and endearing Euphoria is authentic to a fault.  She doesn’t lie to herself, especially when it comes to matters of the heart.

Beneath a strong and confident exterior is a soft and sometimes fragile interior. Her realistic nature won’t let her believe anything too willing, unless it already supports her premise. She trusts her gut, and her best friends. She loves hard, and long. When the time comes to lay it all on the line she does so with reservations. NOthing tests her heart more than her hero Nathaniel Blanchard.

Euphoria’s journey is one that most women can relate to  in at least one phase of her life. She is stronger than she thinks she is, wiser than she gives herself credit, and determined to make the best of her life. Noone walks away from her unmoved.

As we travel the journey of Euphoria and Nathaniel’s relationship together, the question is never whether or not she loves him. However, she has to get out of her head and let her heart guide if their love is ever to last.

#Therearelayerstothis

No. I don’t write Urban Fiction. I write African-American Romances.

Yes, there is a difference.

As everything does, the African-American romance genre has grown. When I was a girl and first getting into romances there was only one name for the genre. It encompassed any romances that included A.A characters as the driving leads. The list of authors was constantly growing and the different styles were developing write under my nose. I loved it then, I love it now. So when it was time for me to write for myself using A.A. romance novels as my foundation was ideal.

As I have gotten older, I’ve watched the genre make room for more. The rise of Urban Fiction came as a surprise for me. Suddenly there was another outlet, another expression of A.A. romance in its various forms. I tried to get into it, but found myself feeling like an outsider. I was trying to interpret something that I didn’t have a base line to understand. Urban Fiction had almost all the elements that I loved about old-fashioned A.A. romances, but there was something more. There is a deeper edge to everything about urban fiction.

The language is coarser, the settings and circumstances center around a more street lifestyle. The methods and motivations of the characters to get what they wanted felt more cutthroat. I grew up in the woods in a home my stepfather built us. The love written between the pages  of Urban Fiction I could relate too. I have a hard time with everything else.

I keep reading anyway. When I discuss being a writer, even before getting to the shifter angle, there are questions about my work. Urban Fiction has become the unofficial face of black romance. Which leads to some explaining when I say I don’t write it for myself. I’ve ghostwritten several, but that is the extent of it. I know women who swear by it, who race out for the next bestsellers. I’m not one of them.

However, when I look over the landscape of romance writing, I love all the voices that are making their way. Representation is so important. Having someone who gets where you are from and your experiences mirrored back in something like leisure reading is fun and inviting. It is a welcomed sight. It is as it should be and kudos to those who saw the need and filled it.

The romantic lives of black people and people of color in general has almost always been presented as either something taboo or something one-dimensional. It is important that we as writers make room for more voices to demystify the layers of relationships and how they are created within our communities. To show the world at large there is no one way to quantify loving. It exists in its own forms both similar and differing everywhere the sun touches.  I don’t write Urban Fiction, but I am thankful for its existence. Just as I needed the old-fashioned A.A. Romances, so did those who read and love Urban Fiction. I’m forever here for that.

Comment below with your favorite Urban Fiction books and authors. I’d love to hear some of your reviews.

Joy.

#amediting

Nathaniel Blanchard isn’t looking for a relationship, let alone a mate. In fact, he is in the process of ending one relationship that is more trouble than it was ever worth. Determined to shift gears and turn all of his attention to his new company, he’s sworn to keep his distance from women.

When Euphoria Atkins walks into his office as a potential employee, she literally transforms the energy of the room. Nathaniel feels a connection to her unlike any he’s ever had with anyone. When his wolf insists they hold on to her, Nathaniel isn’t so sure.

What follows is a tension filled journey that will force both of them to face an unlikely future that neither is certain they want.

If you’ve been following along, you know that I am in the process of editing my first official release. The snippet above is about all I can share right now, but as we get closer to my release date I’ll give you guys a little more. This post isn’t about the plot, but the edit.

For the life of me, I can never get through an edit without feeling like I should scrap the whole thing and start over. It’s no different with this one. Normally when working with my clients,  I would make tweaks to give the story more fluidity and depth without major apprehension. I’m less likely to get attached to ideas that aren’t working and can see the inconsistency’s easily. It’s the opposite while working exclusively for myself.

There are so many things that don’t work, but I want to keep anyway. My attachment to the story as it is makes it even more difficult to smooth out the story. I’m going to have to get over that sooner than later. My aim is a great piece of shifter romance. I don’t need a few interesting pieces in the middle of a broken plot just for sentiments sake. It’s a process determining what to chop and what to work through. Nonetheless, I’m determined to get it right before crafting a second draft and sending it to my editor.

I’m excited by the reality that I am within a few short weeks of the realization of a dream. I think it is like that for all of us who dream long and vividly. There is a sense of pride for having come so far and a resurgence of motivation to stay the course. I’m looking forward to the final copy and the knowledge that despite everything, I’ve done this. I’ve created what I set out to create. I can hardly wait.

Nathaniel and Euphoria are facing a long journey together. What do you think it is? Leave your hypothesis in the comment section below.

Joy.