#30Days30Stories Compilation Released!

“A novel that will surely make you question your own values in life” - The Book ReviewLately, I’ve been feeling a little more … fertile than I did last year. Last year was a year of upheaval in many ways, including a move from Washington DC to Philadelphia, and from one career to another. Lots of change; and none of which seemed conducive to writing regularly, or particularly well. But I feel much more inspired now, and the challenge this year is going to be harnessing the new surge of creativity I feel, and delivering on promises made long ago to revisit favorite characters.

To help foment that process, I started on a 30-Day sprint, writing a story a day. Most days I managed something new. On about a half-dozen or so, I re-purposed something old, or visited characters who tend to write themselves because I know them so well at this point. I posted each story on my Facebook page.  Now, at the end of the 30-Day sprint, I have a compilation, which went live on Amazon this morning. Here it is, hopefully for your enjoyment.

I welcome any questions you have about the stories, and am particularly curious about those you’d like to see again. In my experience, when my imagination about where to go next fails, the imagination of readers picks up the slack. I’d love to hear from you. And of course …

Happy Reading,

N.

Paid Companion is LIVE!

paid companion frontAbout the book:

Lia Hill isn’t a model. But she’s pretending to be.

Just for a few days, and just because she stands a earn a ridiculous amount of money. The thing is, her mind-numbingly boring job as a receptionist at a modeling agency while she tries to sell her art isn’t exactly paying the bills in her crappy apartment, and she’s desperate for cash. So when the wealthy and handsome Blake Morgan contacts her agency looking for a girl who’s “not ostentatiously attractive” to accompany him to a family getaway, Lia leaps at the chance, sending her on the adventure of a lifetime with Blake, his sister, Nicolette and Kevin, his somewhat reserved, but super-hot “assistant.”

The Morgan clan is young, beautiful, loaded and tons of unexpected fun. So what’s the worst that could happen?


Dear Readers,

Last year on Wattpad, I started writing a story that I wanted to be all about fun and lightheartedness and fluff. And I tried. I really, really tried. Not only was the experience of writing a story in parts a challenging one for me, I also discovered more about my voice. I can’t really do lighthearted and funny as an entire project. That’s hard, and not a skill I have. Funny and lighthearted moments, sure, but I think my nature is probably to get beneath the surface of just about everything, most especially people and the public faces they display.

So … a story about a woman who was a ‘paid companion’ for a week evolved into something a little different. I hope you enjoy it. It’s available on Amazon now! 

Happy Reading,

Nia

Women who Misbehave

Wine with Writers poster - final-2 (1)

On March 25th, I’m going to be in Collegeville, PA (about an hour NW of Philadelphia) with Tia Kelly, Jacinta Howard and Lily Java for a book signing, readings by the authors and panel discussion, moderated by Ashley Coleman, author of ‘Love on Purpose’.  Our discussion theme is a juicy one: “Romance, Realism & Portrayal of African American Women in Popular Fiction”. Not only do my fellow panelists happen to be some of my favorite indie authors, the topic is one I love to talk about with anyone who’s willing to listen or participate. Over the past couple of years as I’ve grown into my writing voice a little bit, I realized something. I enjoy writing stories of love, stories that are “real” and most all, stories about women who misbehave. No meek heroines for me; or if they are meek, I love writing about how they mess up, make mistakes and often wreak havoc in their lives as well as others’.

So when my fellow authors and I are together in Collegeville, I imagine what I’ll want to talk about is how romance, even though based on a simple formula, can be one of the more complex genres to write, if you want the love to feel real. I imagine I’ll also want to talk, and hear about whether realism is something people value in romance, or whether the fantasy is the hook for most readers. And finally, I definitely want to talk about how much juice I get from writing about women, specifically women of color who “misbehave”. Some of them are like Lorna, in one of my featured books, ‘The Fall’, a woman determined to blaze her own trail, arrogant, self-righteous and downright rude, and the hell with people who don’t like it. And some of them are like Zora in my other featured book for the event, ‘Young, Rich & Black’ who is determined to decide for herself who she’s going to be, even if that person is at odds with who everyone else says she should be. But I won’t get into it too much right now, because that’ll leave nothing for Saturday March 25th at the Towne Book Center Wine Bar and Café.

If you’re in the neighborhood, or can make it there, consider joining us, and joining in on the conversation. Register for the book signing and discussion free here, and/or for the wine tasting as well, for a small fee!

Hope to see you, but either way …

Happy Reading!

~N~

SAMPLE SUNDAY: ‘Paid Companion’

paid companion

Washington, DC, Sunday, 4:47p.m.

 Nicki had chosen well.

Kevin watched Lia Hill out of the corner of his eye as she settled into her seat and arranged her legs demurely to one side as she strapped in. They were going to leave late, because Blake and Nicki were late, as usual. The plan had been for them to have gotten to the airport early, and been waiting on the plane by the time Kevin arrived with the model. But Blake had been partying the night before and overslept, and Nicki had been completely MIA until about an hour ago.

So now Kevin was sitting on the plane alone with the model, waiting in this awkward silence. He wondered what she was thinking, whether she thought they were a bunch of degenerates who had hired a woman for a week to do all kinds of debaucherous things to her. The agency said she was twenty-nine, but she looked younger. And though very attractive, she didn’t look like a model. For one thing, she was too short. She couldn’t be more than five-four, or five-five. And she had hips, and boobs and a heart-shaped rather than angular face.

Kevin noticed these kinds of things because when he was into natural light photography, he’d grown accustomed to assessing people and objects according to how the light hit them, and became adept at telling how they would photograph. Lia Hill was very pretty, but in her pictures, she would appear heavier than she was, which Kevin estimated was no more than about a hundred and twenty-five pounds soaking wet.

“What time do we take off?”

She looked up unexpectedly, and Kevin once again was struck by her eyes. They were cat-shaped and large, dominating her cute, pixie-like features—small pert nose and bee-stung, bow-shaped lips. Something about her face made him want to stare, and take in each feature one at a time, surveying them separately before putting them together again and appreciating the whole.

“Whenever Blake and Nicki get here. Which should have been …” He glanced at his watch. “About an hour and a half ago.”

“Blake Morgan is on this flight with us?” she asked.

At that, Kevin did smile. The way she called Blake by his full name was funny. “Yeah. If he makes it by six. Otherwise we’ll leave without him and he’ll have to fly commercial and meet us down there.”

“You could just … leave him?” Her eyebrows lifted.

Kevin grinned. “Yeah. If he’s late, damn right his ass is getting left. I’m not trying to sit in this hangar all day. You?”

Lia shrugged and then shook her head. “I guess not. But if you’re his assistant, I guess I thought you’d have to wait no matter how …”

“His assistant?” Kevin echoed. “Where’d you get the idea I was his …?”

“What’s up, fam?”

Kevin turned at the sound of Blake’s voice, and rolled his eyes to see that he was just barely dressed—in cargo shorts and a ratty t-shirt, a small duffle bag over his shoulder that Kevin would bet good money, carried only more of the same. The old man was bound to love this—seeing his first-born pictured in the Miami Times looking like a Gulf Coast fisherman.

“Blake, this is …”

“My girlfriend for the week, huh?”

Blake collapsed into the seat directly across from Lia’s and looked her over, shamelessly taking in every little detail while the poor woman blushed and shrank back under his gaze. When she looked up again, it was shyly, and like most women meeting Blake for the first time, reluctant to look him directly in the eye.

Blake turned on his hundred-watt smile. “You’re beautiful,” he said. Then he extended his hand, which she took, attempting a smile back. “I’m Blake.”

“Lia,” she returned, taking his hand briefly.

“Lia, I don’t know if Kev told you. It’s going to be family, mostly. My parents, a couple cousins, a few friends here and there. Formal dinner every night, a couple day-trips … and the sex, we’re willing to pay extra for.”

At Lia’s wide-open eyes, Blake laughed and lightly slapped her on the knee, while Kevin shook his head and looked. “I’m jus’ messin’ with you! Damn!”

Then Blake was leaning back in his seat and looked around the cabin fully for the first time.

“Nice choice, Kev. Didn’t like that rinky-dink plane you got last time. This joint is nice.”

“Glad you like it,” Kevin said dryly.

“This isn’t … your plane?” Lia asked.

Blake and Kevin looked at her and then at each other, smiling. People always overestimated the Morgan family’s wealth. They were rich, but not so rich that the old man would do something like buy a private jet just to sit around generating expenses. They chartered, they leased but it was not an item he would buy. Not unless, as he liked to put it, he was planning on “selling out his great grandkids’ tomorrows to live in lap of luxury today.”

“Nah, we rented it for the ride,” Blake answered. “Much as I would love to own one of these babies.”

“I’m glad you remembered that,” Kevin said. “That it’s a rental. And you know how that works, right? By the hour. So your late ass just cost the old man about three thousand dollars. And where the hell is Nicki?”

Blake shrugged. “Who the hell knows? Off on one of her mystery missions. Sometimes I wonder whether I’m not the only one pulling the wool over on …”

Kevin shot him a look to remind him they weren’t alone and Blake promptly shut up, turning to give Lia another of his dazzling smiles. Those smiles had gotten Blake out of many a fix, and helped people look past what Kevin thought was pretty damn obvious at this point. But hell, he was part of the conspiracy; and though she didn’t know it, so was Lia.

COMING SOON.

SAMPLE SUNDAY: ‘Young, Rich & Black’

Holding her phone between her shoulder and the side of her head, Zora stuffed her black one-piece swimsuit and a brown viscose skirt into her hobo along with an orange scarf and a long-sleeved beige t-shirt.

“You talk to Rashad since you’ve been home?” the voice on the other end of the line asked.

“Nope. He hit me up a couple of times, but I didn’t pick up. All we have right now to talk about at the moment is business, and I’m on Break, so …”

“Yeah, but you guys barely even broke up. After two years being together, that’s kind of cold to cut a brother off like that. And I can’t believe you’re going to hang out with Deuce Scaife again.”

“Mia,” Zora sighed. “It’s no big deal. I’m just …”

“Trying to get a little of that good-good,” her friend cackled on the other end of the line. “I don’t blame you, girl. Nothing like it to get you over the post-relationship hump. No pun intended. And if what I hear about him is true …”

the-optics-of-it-the-black-power-coupleOh, it was definitely true. But Mia didn’t need to know all that.

“Mia, I’ll call you back when I get home later. And please stop bringing up Rashad. He is definitely past tense.”

“If you say so. But dudes like Rashad don’t come a dime-a-dozen. You should …”

Zora held the phone away from her ear.

She had heard this sermon one time too many for her taste—about how Rashad was a “woke brother”, how he was on some “Barack Obama-type shit” and most of all how rare he was. That was the kind of talk that helped lead Zora into such an intense relationship with him so quickly in the first place; and it was probably also responsible for her staying in said relationship for at least one year too long.

It was just that the optics of her and Rashad were too powerful to ignore. People loved the idea of them. Together, they looked like the prototype of the ideal Black power couple—her with the dark skin and big natural, and Rashad, with his militant bearing and unrelenting scowl, staring down anyone who dared to look at him even halfway funny. And that they were co-chairs and co-founders of a Black Lives Matter chapter? That just made it even more of a modern Black American storybook romance.

When she was honest with herself, Zora admitted that it wasn’t just other people who loved the idea of her and Rashad. She had too. Until just a few months ago, she was as bought into the story as anyone else. Breaking it off had actually given her a few anxiety attacks. What if he was The One? What if she was being foolish by letting him go?

There was no question Rashad was going to be making some big moves in the next few years. He was the guy who would miss his five-year college reunion, but only because he was running for State Senate, or was a nationally-respected activist too busy to attend since he was on a speaking tour. But being in love with Rashad’s passion and drive; being enamored of his politics, and in sync with his worldview wasn’t the same as being in love, enamored with or in sync with Rashad himself. It had taken Zora a long time to acknowledge that, and now she was determined not to backslide by having anyone persuade her otherwise. She had been avoiding his calls mostly because of all the people who might attempt that persuasion, Rashad was the most persuasive of all.

Deuce Scaife was a convenient, albeit very pleasurable, antidote to that. No one could be more different from Rashad than he was. When they met up that night, completely by accident after his traffic stop, she had taken her shot, partly to see what would happen if she did; and partly because he had—much to her surprise—been just as magnetic as all the rumors suggested.

Glancing at the face of her phone, she checked the time. He would be pulling up at any minute. And since she preferred to head him off at the front door, or better yet at the curb, she needed to get downstairs fast. The last thing she wanted was for her brother, Ousmane, to spot the car outside and suggest that she invite her guest in. His, and her father’s more traditional sensibilities would be offended if she snuck out with some anonymous guy without at least introducing him for their inspection.

“Mia, let me catch up with you later,” she said, cutting her friend off mid-sentence. “I need to get out of here before Ousmane starts getting on my nerves.”

“Okay. But answer the brother’s call, Zora. Even if you’re not planning to get back with him, y’all can still do some good work together.”

In that, Mia had a point. BLM was facing a lot of negative media backlash, and along with about a dozen other college chapters, there had been talk about having a stakeholder call over the holidays to strategize on how to counter all that. The problem with decentralized movements like BLM was that a few knuckleheads; or as was the case in New York, a lone gunman with misguided motives and a history of mental illness, could blow the whole thing up in one news cycle. Just because nationally, the movement lacked the resources to coordinate a rapid-response strategy.

They had lost a lot of ground over the past few months and were in danger of losing control of the media narrative altogether. But luckily, Rashad was a master strategist. If they had a stakeholder call, Zora was confident he would have more than a few good ideas for how they might recapture their hard-earned public support.

On the handful of occasions when he had been in the media locally, Rashad had owned the interview, coming across as articulate, thoughtful and commanding of the facts. His credibility had no doubt given credibility to the movement itself. Zora still remembered the hundreds of emails and text messages he had gotten from chapters and individual supporters around the country. The buzz online about him after one particular radio interview that past spring had enabled them to raise over ten thousand dollars for their chapter in less than a week.

In a word, Rashad Dixon was impressive.

“Admiration is not love, Zora,” she whispered to herself.

Available now, exclusively on Amazon.

 

** EXCLUSIVE SAMPLE **

exploringFrom ‘Young, Rich and Black’:

“Human relationships are complicated,” Rashad said. “You can’t rig that shit. It just happens the way it happens.”

Zora said nothing, keeping her hands folded on her lap, listening to him talk.

Usually, she loved listening to Shad talk. He had such agency of expression, such complete command of his words. They were currency for him—buying him entrée into circles where most young, Black men would never go. After Penn State, he was going to law school at Stanford, and after that, who knew? The sky was certainly the limit for someone like Shad but he wanted to be out West. He liked that he was going to be close to Oakland, because like lots of East Coast Black activists, he was in love with the city as the birthplace of the Black Panther Movement and imagined that there, some of the magic from that time would rub off.

“And I definitely understand why you were curious about him. I mean, hell, how many like him we got out there, apart from the ballers?”

He was talking about Deuce. Because after an hour of barely-disguised curiosity about how inaccessible she had been to him over most of the Break, he guessed that she had what he called “a fling” with someone. So, not wanting to act like Deuce was a dirty secret, and most of all wanting to put an end to the probing, Zora had just come out with it.

I drove home with Deuce Scaife, she said. And we wound up spending some time together over Break.

Yes, they spent time together. Lots of time. And then there was New Year’s Eve which was amazing. Scarily so. So scary that when Deuce had taken her home the next morning, Zora ignored all his calls and texts, instead immersing herself in her parents and brother for the next day and a half, then packing all her stuff to return to school.

She called Shad late on the night of the third of January, and suggested that they get going sooner rather than later. He was there before nine a.m. on the fourth and they had hit the road in his reliable but beat-up Toyota 4Runner.

Today, she knew for sure, Deuce would give up calling and stop by her parents’ house. He would have exhausted his limited patience by now; and knowing her planned departure date would simply show up. He was spoiled in that way. Spoiled in every way, really. He just wanted what he wanted when he wanted it. He never waited for anything. Not even for her. When he wanted her, he just … took her.

Sighing, Zora shook her head. It wasn’t working. She wasn’t going to be able to work up anything resembling anger at him. Because he had never treated her with anything but respect, and care and consideration. If his greatest sin was that he wanted her all the time, and didn’t like waiting to have her, then she was in for a hard road to get him and their “fling” out of her system.

“I don’t mean to get all in your business or anything,” Rashad continued. “But as far as you and him …”

“Nothing changes,” Zora said. “We were just … kickin’ it over Break.”

She couldn’t even look at him when she said those words, because they felt so blatantly false. But it was basically what she and Deuce had agreed to—the temporary shedding of expectations. And that was all.

“Figured.”

“What does that mean?” Zora snapped.

Rashad shrugged, looking away from the road for a moment. “Nothing. I just don’t see bruh at a BLM march, do you?”

“It’s not like he’s oblivious to what’s going on out there. He’s been stopped before.”

Rashad laughed. “Impressive. Him, and every other Black man in America. That’s hardly the equivalent of street cred.”

Zora rolled her eyes. “He’s more than you think, Rashad,” she murmured. “And besides, that wasn’t what it … what we were about.”

“Okay, so tell me,” Rashad’s voice rose a little, and Zora heard the annoyance, and the jealousy he had concealed before. “What were you about?”

“It doesn’t matter,” she said. “Because …”

“Did you fuck him?”

“Shad.”

“You did, right? Because that’s all I can think of that would make someone like that interesting to someone like you. Curiosity about the magic dick that sends all these dumb-ass girls scurrying his way to get used.”

Zora’s stomach clenched at the phrase, ‘sends all the girls scurrying his way.’

But that was Deuce’s rep. And though Rashad hadn’t said it, implicit in his comment was some judgment about the type of girls Deuce was notorious for bedding. He generally checked for Latinas and White chicks, and the precious few who weren’t, may as well have been since they looked it. His type was so firmly established that even people on campus who had never exchanged three words with him could probably pick his likely sex partners out of a line-up.

Zora knew what it was like to be fetishized. Since puberty there had been guys, some of them White, some of them Black, for whom her darkness, her unmistakable Blackness, seemed to be her single most irresistible feature. They stared at her in a manner that was vaguely disturbing, sometimes putting their arm against hers, rhapsodizing about the contrast in their skin tones. Or they played a little too often with her wiry, kinky hair, testing its texture, stretching and releasing it; examining each component of her as though she was a rare museum piece.

Deuce wasn’t like that.

He never remarked on their differences, but instead, often told her she was beautiful, or pretty. Even Rashad had never done that—leaned in, though they were in a crowded room, in a Target checkout line, or waiting for movie tickets—and with mouth against her ear, whispered, you’re so beautiful or damn, you look amazing today.

Where’d you learn that? Zora had asked him once. Where did you learn to make a girl feel so good?

But that time, she meant something else entirely. Deuce had been at the foot of the bed, between her legs. When he lifted his head, he looked dizzy, and drunk with her. Sliding up along her body, he was rock-hard.

Making you feel good, makes me feel good, he said almost matter-of-factly. And you don’t know, Zee … you taste better than anything in this world.

Then he kissed her, long and deep so she could taste herself as well. But Zora still didn’t know what he was talking about. To her, what made the kiss good, was just … him.

“You know what?” Rashad said now. “It don’t matter. You fucked him, but it’s over. That’s the important thing. It’s over. And I’m confident in my shit … Fuck that nigga.”

Available Now on Amazon

 

 

 

‘Young, Rich & Black’: An Afterwards Novella

youngrichSAMPLE SUNDAY: From ‘Young, Rich & Black: An Afterwards Novella’

“Didn’t I just see you last night?”

Phone up against his ear, Deuce watched from the other side of the barbershop as his father got the finishing touches on his shave. His own haircut had been done for a little while, and when he got tired of the shit-talking and sports predictions, he called Zora. Just to see what was up with her since they hadn’t talked after he dropped her off the evening before.

“Yeah. Damn. Just checking to see if you’re a’ight. Is that a problem?”

“Why wouldn’t I be alright? From what I remember, you saw me walk up my front path, unlock the door and step right into my house, didn’t you? I know, because I waved at you from the open front door.”

He smiled. He kind of liked it when she teased him; not by being coy, but by playing coy.

“I’m a gentleman. I was taught to wait until the lady was safe before pulling off. And there’s been a few home invasion robberies in Jersey so you never know.”

Zora laughed her husky yet melodious laugh. “Well, no one’s invaded my home. So I’m totally fine. But thanks for checking.”

“You’re welcome.”

For a few moments, there was silence between them. Across the room, the barber was wiping his father’s face clean. Soon he would take out his powder and brush and Deuce would no longer have the privacy he needed to seal this deal.

“What’re you doin’ later?”

“Nothing. The usual for when its cold as hell outside. Netflix. Chill.”

“Come do that with me.”

“Why, when I could do it right here? And not even have to change out of my PJs.”

“You haven’t changed out of your PJs?”

“Nope.” Zora made a popping noise with her lips when she pronounced the word.

“That’s nasty.”

She laughed. “I showered before bed.”

“Yeah. Sure you did.”

“I did.”

“Deuce!”

He looked up. His father was done, and beckoning for him as he doled out tips to the barber and his assistant.

“If you don’t want to come over, let me come over there then.”

“I probably should leave the house,” Zora said, almost as though talking to herself. “Whenever I try to veg out all day, it seems like a good idea, and then around seven-thirty I start feeling a little stir-crazy.”

“So … you comin’ over or …?”

“Ahm …”

Deuce stood, deliberately slow-walking toward the exit of the barbershop where his father was waiting for him. Ducking his head, and lowering his voice, he spoke deliberately softly into the phone.

“C’mon, Zee,” he said. “I really want to see you.”


coming soon.