“Maybe friendship is all that’s realistic for us right now.”
With those words, Zora ended their long-distance relationship, shattering Deuce’s vision of a life with the only woman he’s ever loved. But after months of silence, he thought he was over it. He’d moved on, hadn’t he? And as far as he knew, she might have done the same. Now Zora is back from California, and he’s thrown into an immediate tailspin. Nothing’s changed.
She’s the one, the only, his rhyme, and his reason …
But this ain’t no college romance.
There are serious, grown-folks’ obstacles standing in the way, and the other woman in his life isn’t even the half of it. And sometimes growing up might mean moving on …
Over a few short summer weeks, Deuce and Zora will have to decide whether the great love they shared in the past, is enough of a foundation to build a future.
AVAILABLE NOW on Amazon: Rhyme & Reason by Nia Forrester for $4.99 or FREE for KU subscribers: https://amzn.to/2UM7Fal
I really need to
blog more. I used to do it weekly, then stopped when I realized it was interfering
with the books I wanted to write. But lately, I’ve been finding that I want to
say stuff, and rather than pick fights on social media with people I otherwise
like very much, I thought blogging would be a good idea. Because what is a blog
if not an unanswerable, inarguable assertion by someone who wants to talk smack,
and not subject their arguments to analysis or criticism?
I’m only sort of
kidding. These are the times we’re in. Battle lines are easily drawn and not so
easily erased. There’s no, ‘let’s just agree to disagree’ these days. It’s more
like ‘let’s fight to the death, preferably yours.’ So now you know why I’m blogging.
Here’s what I want to say: this ghostwriter, plagiarism debate that’s been
throwing the writing world into a tailspin lately is cray-cray. I mean, writers
are out there using their keyboards as swords and are on a search-and-destroy
mission to ferret out those who are not true to “the craft” either because they’re
thieves or because they crank out hackneyed, formulaic stories and stuff
e-books for profit, or they don’t write their own stuff but use ghosts who help
them gain notoriety and a few more bucks.
It’s worth a moment
to uncouple some of those things. The thieves are plagiarists. That’s a whole
separate, unambiguously dishonest breed who deliberately steal the words or
ideas of others and repackage them as their own. I think anyone who writes honestly
is united with other writers in their condemnation of those folks.
And as for the scammers
and book-stuffers; once a cottage industry, it’s now become big business for
writers, and some non-writers to create very little new content and then pad
their e-books with samples, teasers or previously released material, just to
game Amazon’s system. Most writers decry this as well, and no one seriously
argues that this practice should be allowed to continue though we may disagree
about how much energy honest writers should give to that crusade.
What’s not as clear
is where the writing world stands on the increased use of ghosts, people who do
the writing for someone else who has maybe no will, acumen, or time to write
their own stories. Ghosts are not a new phenomenon. And in point of fact, never
used to be quite so ghostly. The most reputable folks who use ghosts say so,
and put their ghost’s name right there on the cover, or in the credits or acknowledgments.
Lately though, a new breed seems to be proliferating – let’s for the sake of distinguishing
them, call them ‘ghouls.’ Ghouls are one-hundred percent invisible. We don’t
know who they are because the named “author” does not even acknowledge their
existence. This is where things have begun to get a little murky, ethically
who use neither ghosts nor ghouls are wondering whether it’s “fair” to the rest
of us, and to the reader for them to be sold a bale of goods of dubious origin.
Today, in the digital age, you don’t just sell books (electronic or otherwise).
For good or ill, you sell yourself. The accessibility of the writer to today’s
readership is unprecedented. We send and receive direct messages from readers,
answer questions in real-time, and even form actual friendships with them in
the real world. They are attracted to the written word, but often to the writer
of it. Some writers are trendy, funny, hipsters, cool professionals, elusive
introverts, boisterous extroverts, nervous strivers … and readers sometimes attach
to them accordingly.
So, the question is, what if that persona to which a reader attaches is itself fiction? Is that ethical? Sounds like many writers are beginning to say not. It sounds like many in the writing community are growing increasingly uncomfortable with writers who may gain what they see as an unfair advantage by creating fake personas and selling that along with their books. Honestly, I don’t know what’s “fair” or not, and if writers are out there selling fake or amplified personas to move units, more power to you. I guess. I think it’s a broader cultural phenomenon. People do that every day on Instagram, even when they’re not selling a doggone thing except the illusion that they have a perfect life.
So, I’ll just talk
about me and my deal. I write under a pseudonym. When I first started self-publishing,
I was in a higher-profile job than I am now, and didn’t want my 9—5 profession
to be affected by my writing life, or vice versa. I also like the anonymity.
But I’m not completely anonymous. I
don’t share personal pictures or details, but I do share almost everything else
– embarrassing moments, stories about my day-job, my family, my neighbors and even,
occasionally, the person I’m in a relationship with. I share it and it’s all
For me, the truth of
it is important because here’s how I see it: when a writer’s words speak deeply
to a reader, the reader feels kinship with them, and they feel understood. They
feel it so much they write notes, emails, and send DMs, not as “fans” but as
one human to another human saying ‘God, I
didn’t think anyone felt this, saw this, understood this.’ And when you get
one of those notes, it is hella-cool.
It is, I kid you not, way cooler than
when someone writes just to say, ‘You’re a
very good writer.’ And for angsty, in-your-head types like writers often
are, those notes also mean that not only did you understand them, they may understand
something of you. I may not tell you
where I live, but I do want what you know and understand of me to be real and
true, just like I want the characters I write to be real and true.
Now, I know there’s
going to be the “it’s just a business” crew and a “you-take-this-too-seriously”
crew. Yeah. Both those things may be true. But I’m just here repping for the
writers for whom it isn’t just a business, but a gift that allows us to see
other people, and be seen by other people, and yet still hide behind the safety
of our pen.
An unedited excerpt from Chapter 1 of ‘Rhyme & Reason’, from the new generation of ‘Afterwards’ novels, coming 2019.
She had fallen asleep while watching The Best Man and woke up to the sound of her phone ringing. On
television, the Netflix home-screen was scrolling through programming options.
Grappling for her phone, expecting to see either her brother’s name or Asif’s,
Zora sat upright when she saw the initials DS.
you have my whole name in your contacts?
you’re kind of famous.
Deuce had twisted his lips and narrowed his eyes
we can do to fix that, he said. Just
change it to ‘My Man’. I can live with that. So, whenever you see it, you know.
know, she’d said, trying not to blush.
“Hello?” Her voice sounded gravelly, so she
cleared her throat and tried again. “Hello.”
“Hey. I wake you?”
“No. I mean, yeah, but it’s fine. I was …” She
didn’t finish her sentence, imagining how pathetic it might sound.
watching Netflix all on my own. On a Friday night. Yes, I was.
Zora thought for a moment, wondering why he would think … Oh, yes. Asif. He hadn’t allowed her to explain earlier. One would have thought he would figure it out. Asif and she could have passed for siblings.
“Yes. I’m alone. And Deuce …”
“I just … I wanted to say I was sorry,” he said.
“For speaking to you the way I did.”
Zora felt her throat tighten.
“I’m sorry, too,” she said.
“Springing up on you. I mean … it wasn’t fair. I
On the other end of the line, Deuce sighed. “I
don’t know that it would have made a difference anyway,” he said.
“Zee, you know when it comes to you …”
She held her breath.
“Anyway. I’m just sorry I came off like that,” he
said in a rush.
The silence stretched.
“How … how are you?” she asked finally. “Lately. How
have you been? With work and everything. And that plan you had.”
The last time they spoke he mentioned he was
about to make a pitch for a special project with an artist his father’s company
had high hopes for. But after the way the rest of that conversation went, they
hadn’t spoken since.
“You mean with Devin Parks?” Deuce asked.
“Yes. Did Jamal ever give you the go-ahead to
have him as the first …”
“Nah. He shot it down. Said he couldn’t give me an
artist of Devin Parks’ caliber right out the gate. Told me to work with the
team to find my own people.”
“Ouch. That’s harsh,” Zora said, settling back
into her pillows again.
“Not really. He was right. Devin Parks is going
to be huge. He is huge. Lettin’ me
have him for this new label would have been giving me something I didn’t earn.
Hell, I didn’t even earn the right to develop a new label.”
“Don’t say that …”
“It’s true though. Who graduates from undergrad
and gets that kind of opportunity from jump? I mean, if I was just some regular
dude, I would be an intern at SE for real.”
Zora had heard him speak this way about himself
before, but it hurt her every time.
“You’re always underestimating yourself,” she
said. “So what if you’re not ‘some regular dude’? So what if you got a foot in
the door because of your father? Now that you’re in, you just have to prove you
deserve to be there.”
“Tryin’,” he said.
“It’s goin’ okay, I guess. Mostly I’m learning
the business, y’know?”
“Does your father help?”
“I don’t ask him.”
“That’s such a wasted opportunity. Your father
probably has an encyclopedia’s worth of knowledge about how to develop a record
label. Why wouldn’t you take advantage of that?”
“So he can get confirmation that I’m just fakin’ through
it right now?”
“Are you?” she asked.
Deuce said nothing for a few beats.
“Not really. I mean, I did my homework. I’ma have
to take a couple risks, but I feel good about where things are at,
“Okay, so where are they?”
“What d’you mean?”
“I mean, tell me where things are. What stage are
you at in developing the label?”
Deuce didn’t realize this about himself, but Zora
knew he needed to process things aloud. To talk them over with a
thought-partner, and problem-solve through conversation. When he did, his
confidence strengthened. Deuce was not short on confidence by any means, but
Chris Scaife Sr. was a formidable yardstick to measure oneself by.
“You won’t be bored by all that?”
“Have I ever been?” she asked, before she caught
Then they both laughed at the same time.
“Okay, fine,” she said. “There were moments, I
Deuce echoed, laughter still in his voice. “You fell asleep on me, Zee. When I
was talking about …”
“In my defense, it was right after …” She broke
Right after they’d made love. Made love. That’s what it was with him.
Every time, maybe even including the very first time.
After lovemaking, Deuce was wide open. He talked.
Told her his greatest fears, his biggest dreams. He talked until he was
exhausted, and sometimes until she was, as well.
“Yeah,” he said now. “I’ll give you that. The
moment wasn’t … opportune.”
of a female voice, interrupting their conversation was so unexpected that Zora
for a moment didn’t know where it was coming from. Her eyes instinctively
shifted to her tv even though the sound was clearly coming from her phone.
She heard shuffling, and the muffled sound of Deuce talking to someone. To the someone who had called him ‘baby.’
Chelsea Olson has always been a rebel. Growing up as the daughter of a conservative southern preacher, she never accepted his narrow-minded views, especially those about interracial dating and marriage. In fact, since high school her preference has been black men. But she’s never had a serious relationship with anyone. Then she meets Isaac “Ike” Sloane.
Ike is handsome, successful and family-oriented, everything Chelsea has ever imagined in a man, and she wants him. Will outside forces and attitudes stop them from experiencing the love they have both wanted?
Contemporary women’s fiction/romance author Chicki Brown has been featured twice in USAToday. She was honored in 2014 and 2011 by B.R.A.B. (Building Relationships Around Books) Book Club and SORMAG (Shades of Romance Magazine). Chicki was also a contributing author to the Gumbo for the Soul: Men of Honor (Special Cancer Awareness Edition).
Before she started writing romance, she worked as a secretary, typesetter, daycare provider, and executive assistant. Now she does her favorite job as a full-time romance author. Her goal as an author is to entertain readers and provide an escape from their daily routine into the lives of her characters.
In 1994 Brown relocated from New Jersey, the land of the world’s best pizza and hot dogs to Atlanta, Georgia, the home of the world’s best shrimp and grits and hot wings.
If you only follow my blog, you may not have realized that ‘Snowflake’ the latest in the ‘Afterwards’ novels series is here! The ‘Afterwards’ series will be a collection of standalones featuring the extended friends and family of Chris and Robyn Scaife. The novels cover occurrences either concurrent with, or following the ‘Afterwards’ and ‘Afterburn’ novels chronologically-speaking. ‘Young, Rich & Black’ was Chris Scaife’s son, Deuce’s story and ‘Snowflake’ features Kaleem, Deuce’s best friend. Later this year, if all goes according to plan, I will release two more books in the series, ‘Rhyme & Reason’ which is the continuation of Deuce and Zora’s story, with some more about Kaleem; and then ‘On the Other Side’ which will delve into Damon, Jamal Turner’s (from ‘The Come Up’ and ‘The Takedown’) brother’s story.
I released ‘Snowflake’ just after Christmas, so it already feels like yesterday’s news but I am so pleased by how it’s been received so far. It’s been the #1 New Release on Amazon’s African American Women’s Fiction and Contemporary Literary Fiction, and African American Literary Fiction lists for about a week now which is so humbling, and also very surprising. It’s so weird how, when you’re writing it, it’s tough to figure out whether a book will land, or completely fail. I didn’t think this one would fail, but I certainly thought it would go largely unnoticed because it features a subsidiary character among a group of much more well-known characters. I hope you enjoy ‘Snowflake’ and if you do, tell a friend and write a review. I read them. I read them all.
Also, in case you’re interested, and are a fast reader, there’ll be an online book chat about ‘Snowflake’ tomorrow at 7PM ET in the Facebook group ‘Because My Heart Said So …’ You have to be a member of the group to join the chat, so you can take care of that here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/BecauseMyHeartSaidSo/