Lily’s Path to More

BMHSS Final CoverOver the past three weeks, you’ve gotten acquainted with three of the writers from my upcoming collaboration, ‘Because My Heart Said So’. One by one, Jacinta Howard, Rae Lamar and I have submitted to the inquisition of the author who has played the role of project manager, house-mother and general herder-of-the-cats, Lily Java. Sure, she had her character Sydney from ‘Because My Heart Said So’ do the actual interviews, but that is consistent with who Lily is—she gets people to ‘do stuff’, adding a process where there were previously only “cool ideas”. In fact, I think it’s fair to say that without her tenacity in pursuing the “cool idea” of a collection of Friends-to-Lovers stories, this book would not have happened.

So, along with Jacinta and Rae, I am super-excited to have everyone get to know Lily Java and her stellar work. She has been the level-headed calming influence of our group, the one who keeps me on task, gently prods me back into focus when my ideas wander, and I think Jacinta and Rae would agree, pretty much the “adult in the room” when the rest of us begin to get goofy. And the fact that she’s a damn good writer whose lyrical contribution to the Collection classed up the joint? Well, that’s a bonus.

Welcome, Lily Java! We’re old friends so it seems odd to have you here for something as formal as an “interview”, particularly about something that we collaborated on. But since you had me in the hot seat at least once, I’m thrilled to be able to return the favor.

So let’s start here ‘Because My Heart Said So’ is very definitely a compilation of romance novellas, and you very well-received debut novel ‘Sticky Moon’ is not purely romance. You wowed us with that book. Why depart from that genre? Or have you departed from it?   How do you think you’ve evolved creatively from then until now?

I’m absolutely not through with the suspense genre. There are two more romantic suspense novels in me fighting to get out. One, I plan to publish in the fall. But the mini—departure is definitely part of my evolution as a writer. I still feel like a virgin in this industry. So new, fresh, and dewy. It’s an odd feeling given my actual age. Before I published ‘Sticky Moon my brain was full of stories — all types. I’d been a deeply closeted writer in my head my whole life with a ton of unfinished ideas. Once I finished something for the first time, which was only about 2.5 years ago, it was like the flood gates opened and all this very disparate stuff started flying out. Then I realized that was fitting ‘cause I’m nothing if not radically independent. I never liked being put in boxes or categories so the idea of being married to one type of story didn’t sit well with my imagination. Last fall, I started trying to establish a regular writing schedule that fits sanely into my life and writing smaller stories that I could finish while also delving into other genres. I could’ve easily been a detective in another life and I adore suspense novels and movies, so it was natural for that to be my first book. But despite that, I believe love is THE strongest and most unpredictable emotion so trying to write a story without love being an element would be the most challenging for me. And relationships involving people in love interests me a lot.

Sticky MoonYour genre-hopping leads me to believe you get inspiration from varied places. Tell us about that. What inspires the different types of genres you write in? Where do those ideas come from?

Literally everything inspires it and the ideas come from everywhere. A few days ago I was trying to catch a cab and nearly collided with this woman in her seventies with fuchsia hair, wearing makeup and an outfit that resembled the wardrobe of a teenager in a bad copycat version of an eighties John Hughes coming-of-age flick. Consequently I cannot get the vision of that woman very far out of my head. Making shit up about her is on a pretty constant loop in my mind: is she the landlord for a young newlywed couple in Brooklyn who are falling out of love already as they look for a starter apartment or the dynamic aunt and sole support to a schizophrenic nephew who she fights with child services about so he can continue to live with her or is she a former disco queen whose personality is frozen in time (think creepy Betty Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane)? I don’t know yet but that woman I saw for about 10 seconds is definitely going into a story. I think the key to finding and using inspiration is not being afraid to let your mind go in a completely off-beat direction.

Everyone knows that we creative types are a little temperamental. Rae and Jacinta and I have already described the love-fest of a process for getting this book together, at least logistically speaking. But what were your greatest fears about this process? What were the best surprises about it?

We had a brutally short writing schedule for this book and I’m a slow writer. And since I’m also the type that’s always piling on to my challenges like a damn fool, I was simultaneously the primary manager for a project at my day job that if it didn’t go well I could easily have lost said job. Oh yeah, and my house was and still is, under some pretty major reconstruction that I’m overseeing alone. So consequently my greatest fear was that I wouldn’t finish the book on time.

My second biggest fear was that I’d finish the book but the story wouldn’t measure up to the incredibly talented writers I was working with. I’m not neurotic so I got over that fear fast though. I knew the other stories would be really wonderful so if mine sucked one out of three ain’t exactly bad odds for the reader. In the end, I did finish on time and I liked how my story came out. That wasn’t the biggest or even the best surprise though.

The best surprise was how well we four meshed together as people and writers, seemed to carry over into how well our stories meshed in the book. When you do a collaboration like this eventually everyone takes on a role, you find out everyone’s strengths or weaknesses and you hope fervently that you all don’t have the same strengths and weaknesses. In our case it was repetitively clear working on this project that we complemented each other in ways that were often surprising and educational.

Syd and EllTell us about your story in the ‘Because My Heart Said So’ Collection. What’s your guy like? What’s his girl like? What’s their ‘love language’ when they’re together?  

Elliott is an interesting guy. He’s at the top of his game or so everyone thinks because he’s hip, focused, and brilliant at almost anything he attempts especially managing people. He’s also a man who has always been recognized or encouraged by women and his relationships with them but, except for the women closest to him, he sees that gift only as a means to an end. He’s never been in love, nor does he particularly think he needs it and then he meets Sydney. Sydney is also interesting but in a very different way. Painfully shy, inherently quirky, studiously insightful, and stubborn are some of the words I’d use to describe her. Sydney can also be profoundly honest given that she sees most things in black or white, and rarely grey.

As for their love language both Sydney and Elliott are vivid and visual creatives. So first and foremost they bond that way. They know that artistry makes them each observant and perceptive about the world at large and consequently gives them both an intensity in how they perceive each other. But on a personal level they also see a similar dysfunctionality in their respective families and upbringing. There is a fragility and innocence to Sydney that Elliott immediately feels protective of. There are deep-seated fears in Elliott that he doesn’t quite measure up to his shiny image, which Sydney who is well acquainted with fear, scoffs at, because to her mind Elliott is very nearly perfect.

One of the things about collections of work from disparate authors is that the ‘voices’ have to vibe well for the collection to hold up. How would you characterize your voice and those of the other authors?

Nia’s voice is so current or maybe a better word for it is relevant. Whenever I read one of her books I literally feel as if her characters are echoing thoughts inside my head. A Nia Forrester book always makes me personally feel present and accounted for when I read it, which is not only validating, it’s cool. She’s also got a phenomenally sensual undercurrent running through her books that can be surprising as well as exciting because she’s clearly an intellectual. But that just goes to show you. Men? Smart girls are very sexy.

Jacinta. Where do I begin? Talk about sexy. Okay, I won’t start there. Jacinta writes intimacy in relationships better than almost anybody I’ve ever read and I’m not talking about physical intimacy. It’s almost like she tunes into what her characters think and feel emotionally with such precision that when she presents it — you can feel it. That is a neat fricking trick to have as a writer. I remember reading her the first time and just how the characters shared riddles about music became a metaphor for their closeness and I thought: Oooo, how she’d do that? And lately Jacinta is getting deeply in touch with the sensual side of her writing. I’m starting to carry fans around when I read her. I’m just saying.

I love Rae’s voice. It’s extremely memorable to me because it makes me laugh while also articulating something I think is extremely hard to share accurately in books about relationships: the fact that all humans are flawed but not necessarily tragically flawed. Rae’s characters represent the reality of how men and women actually are with each other to me – the good or bad, and often that reality is sweet and hilarious. I once asked Rae whether she was the comedienne in her family and she said no. I realized later that Rae’s funny not because she’s trying to be, but because she’s telling the truth.

My voice? That’s easy. Moody, graphic, esoteric — but hopefully not frustratingly so. There’s so much going on under the surface with my characters, to use a well-oiled phrase, a lotta deep shit. I think I have a tendency to make all my characters seem relatively important to the overall story, even the minor ones, because everybody’s got a place here, right? Speaking of place even a setting can play a defining role in how things pan out. Basically there are so many intriguing layers to people and places, it’s very hard for me to forget that when I write.

People always want to know what authors are like, personality-wise—the people behind the pen can be somewhat of a mystery. Give me one word that tells readers something they don’t otherwise know about each of the authors of ‘Because My Heart Said So’, yourself included.

Nia — hypothesizer

Jacinta — designer

Rae — diplomat

Lily – solutionist

-Your voice is really unique, particularly in the black romance genre. If you could pinpoint one characteristic you possess that you feel aids you in your writing approach, what would it be and why.

I have been an avid reader practically all my life. There is nothing that gives the visual and imaginary part of my brain a better, more thorough workout than reading all kinds of things, and all the time. It primes my pump if you get my drift. Geez, that’s like a joke. How many clichés can you put in one sentence? But what can I say, it’s the truth.

-What’s your biggest writing fear?

Running out of time before I can write my best work.

-Indie publishing can be incredibly taxing at times for most writers. Has there ever been a time when you thought about no longer pursuing writing, as in actively publishing books? If so why and what convinced you to continue pursuing your craft?

From the summer of 2013 when this all started for me until now I only thought about no longer doing this once. I’d release ‘Sticky Moon’ a month earlier than I wanted to because of my husband. By that time he was too sick to read it but I’d been reading passages to him for nearly a year. And he was in essence my strongest source of support and encouragement for almost three decades. He’d been telling me to write forever so when those blinders fell from my eyes there was one person happier than me – him. He died seven weeks after I published my first book and for ten months after that I thought it had been a fluke. I’d written SM as some weird cathartic therapy trip and woe is me I’d never be able to pull it off again. You know that sort of nonsense. But underneath it all, I knew it was bullshit. Yeah I’d lost my #1 fan who also happen to be a fab editor and that can be debilitating for a writer. Writers may write for themselves but they also thrive on recognition of their efforts and their vision. To know someone “gets” you? Sheeeit that’s everything.

So what convinced me to get back on the horse? I took one of those weird quizzes on social media and it said that my one defining trait was ambition. And it even showed a drawing of someone literally reaching for the stars in the sky. That shocked me. No, it floored me. I’d always associated ambition with the material wealth and the circumstances that go with it and that has never been me or what I’m about. However, keeping my eye on the ball and how to catch said ball, has always been important to me. I am one of those people who is excessively goal-oriented about things I want to accomplish. Turns out that’s ambition and I don’t think I‘ve ever been happier with an accomplishment than I am when I write books.

If you could pinpoint one moment in the ‘Because My Heart Said So’ collaboration as being the most memorable what would it be?

For me that would be when we made the decision to read each other’s stories. As a group the four of us have been fairly democratic in our decision making. In the beginning we decided that we wouldn’t read each other’s work until the day the book was released. Shortly after we submitted the book for pre-order when it was still in its draft phase the concerns started mounting. We put it to a vote and it was decided we should read the work in its entirety to figure out whether the four stories worked together or whether each individual story worked at all. Everyone got a lot calmer after we did read it, you could literally hear the breathy sighs of relief through the computer screens. That was the first and only time I felt we had a real crisis of faith in the project.

This collection has spurred a lot of interest in each of the authors individually and collectively. Where do you see your creative path taking you as an author personally? And where, if anywhere, do you see the collaboration with these particular authors going?

When I sit down and think about it, I know I have at least ten more novels in me, maybe more. I occasionally think at some point I’ll try being a hybrid writer if only so I can admit once and for all how absolutely impossible I am to micromanage and control. 😉 I also want to write a play and a screenplay. So, that’s where my creative path takes me to… more.

I see this collaboration as a blessing for all of us so I believe it should blossom into more writing as well, definitely more books. I’d like to see us take on another theme or maybe even two. I see us being substantively supportive to each other’s individual writing goals too. I’m going to contradict myself here because that in fact, may be the best surprise to have happened in this collaboration, the establishment of trust that in our little quartet there is someone who “gets” our voice and is enthusiastic about it being heard by as many people as possible.

And where can readers find you online?

Website: http://www.lilyjava.com

Twitter: @LilyJavaWrites

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorLilyJava/

Amazon Author Page

About Lily Java

Lily Java2When she isn’t indulging her new found writing superpower, Lily raises funds for culturally rich arts organizations planning events in the iconic landmarks of one of her favorite cities in the world, New York. Other times she dotes on the artists she lives with (her family) hoping they’ll reciprocate by letting her feed her passions for reading and writing without feeling neglected or getting all grumpy about it. Lily doesn’t fly or wear a cape (presently) but she does read the minds of the characters she writes about, who come to her in multiple genres as well as all sizes, shapes, and colors. A true ambivert, Lily enjoys solitude just as much as she likes meeting and talking with other passionate readers and writers.

 

Finding Jacinta Howard

Well, she hasn’t been missing. But it’s been a while since we heard from Jacinta Howard, and only because she was working on a couple of exciting new projects. First, on May 20th, she releases the next installment in her bestselling Prototype Series.

Finding Kennedy CoverWell, she hasn’t been missing. But it’s been a while since we heard from Jacinta Howard, and only because she was working on a couple of exciting new projects. First, on May 20th, she releases the next installment in her bestselling Prototype Series. Remember ‘HAPPINESS IN JERSEY’? Catch up with Zay and Jersey, and then fall in love again, with Travis and Kennedy. Coming May 20, 2016. More about her other project later. First check this out …

From ‘FINDING KENNEDY’:

We rode for what felt like forever. Until my mind quieted. Until the noise in my head was less than a hum. Until the vibrations of the bike were even with my breaths.

We pulled up to a place that sort of looked like a small house that’d been gutted and turned into a storefront. The entire street was lined with quaint buildings like it. It smelled like fall– crisp and clean. “Evan’s” was written on the sign that hung just over the front door.

“Where are we?” I asked once I’d pulled my helmet off, smoothing my braid, which was hanging over one shoulder. My body was still humming, coming down from the high of our ride. I was still seated on his bike and watched as Travis removed his helmet, raking his fingers through his hair.

“In Allen, just outside Dallas. I wanted a beignet and some wings,” he said, nodding toward front door of Evan’s as he climbed off.

A small smile touched his lips, and he helped me off the bike. “Was the ride too much?”  he asked, watching as I stretched my arms above my head.

“It was perfect.”

He smiled, brushing a loose strand of hair behind my ear.

“This place is owned by a cat named Evan from back home,” Travis explained, as I looked around. “It’s pretty low key,” he offered, reading my expression. “And it’s old school, so no TVs.”

I looked down at my boots.

“I gotta warn you though, dude is a little… off.”

“Off?” I met his eyes again, grinning.

 “Last time I was in here, he was trying to tell me that world is actually flat. Like, he argued me down about it. Got all animated and shit, talking about how Antarctica is really an ice wall.”

I laughed and he shook his head, his dimple showing as he chuckled.

“Why does he think the earth is flat?”

“Your guess is good as mine. I tried to follow what the hell he was talking about– something about gravity being an illusion, and the earth really being a disc.”

I laughed, eyeing him. He smiled and grabbed my hand, interlacing our fingers as we walked together toward the entrance.

“I kept thinking he was gonna laugh, but it never came,” he continued. “All he kept saying was ‘stay woke.’” He widened his eyes, looking like a zombie, and I laughed.

“And you still come here?” I asked as we paused in front of the door.

 “You know how hard it is to find a good beignet in Texas?” He raised his brows.

“But beignets and wings?” 

He nodded his gaze sweeping over me, landing on my boots. He grinned then met my eyes again.

 “My taste is particular.”

“Guilty pleasure?” 

“Nah,” he said, his eyes turning serious despite the playful grin on his face. “I don’t believe in that. You should never feel guilty for enjoying what brings you pleasure.”

A half hour later, we were seated at one of the plush booths, and I was completely in love. Evan’s was the coolest place I’d ever been—part restaurant, part bookstore, part record store. It smelled like vinyl and sugar. I chewed slowly, smiling at Travis who was watching me intently, waiting for my response since I’d told him I’d never actually had a beignet.

“So what’s the word, baby doll?”

I swallowed, relishing the sweetness of the pastry, and grinned.

Yum.”

He laughed, stuffing the last of his into his mouth. Sly Stone’s “Just Like a Baby” played from the speakers, the lazy groove filling the space, seeping into my bones, relaxing me. Or maybe that was just Travis’s energy. I’d expected this day to be like last year, unbearable, too drenched in reality. But I felt almost… dreamlike. The sadness, the ache was still there, but it was hazy instead of overpowering. I could breathe with Travis. 

JHowardConnect with Jacinta Howard
“Thanks to Jacinta Howard’s skill in making Jersey and the rest of the cast colorful and solid,  [Happiness in Jersey] is full of flavor, while offering a mix of life lessons to ponder long after reading.”—USA TODAY


BLOG STOP: Tia Kelly, author of new release ‘Baby Love’!

Baby LoveAbout Baby Love:

The son of an NBA legend, Trent Scott was born a catch and groomed since birth to know it. Little fazes him, including the mystery woman that appears on his doorstep with a baby in tow… even when she claims Trent is the father before disappearing. Until he can prove otherwise and find the delusional woman, he’s stuck caring for a kid he knows can’t be his… or is it?

Brandi Avery is ready to start the next chapter of her life. After coming to the rescue of a frazzled (and extremely attractive) stranger with an adorable (yet obviously upset) baby, she can’t help but fall for Trent Scott… which wouldn’t be so bad if she could convince him to feel the same way about her.

Available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Baby Love is on sale for $1.99 until July 13th.

Buy Links:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble

Connect with Tia Kelly on her blog: www.tiawithapen.com

Excerpt:

Pulling the door open, he saw a gorgeous woman and immediately thought of Lupita Nyong’o.

“About damn time!” She sounded nothing like the graceful actress.

Trent’s brow raised a fraction, but he didn’t say a word.

“Do you mind?” she asked, setting a foot inside his house.

She cut her eyes at him before glancing at her watch. That was when Trent saw the stroller behind her. Ms. Uninvited set an infant carrier on the ground between them after stepping across the threshold.

“How did you get past the gate?”

“It was open when I got here.”

Trent peered around her because he knew he closed it.

“Earlier when the ambulance was here.”

“Ambulance?”

The woman just shrugged.

“Do I know you?”

“You don’t remember me?” Her angry scowl became masked from hurt.

“Why should I?”

“It’s been just over a year, but not that much has changed other than the child we share together.”

“Come again?” That’s when he saw an infant stirring beneath a blanket in the carrier. The plush pink and white covering did nothing to soften his discomfort.

What the hell?

“We met in Vegas the spring before last.”

“Okay?”

“And it’s about time you met the daughter we share as a result.”

“Look Miss… I don’t even know your name, so how do I have a daughter?”

Dark piercing eyes were now damp. “Trina.”

“Excuse me?”

She cleared her throat, jutted out her chin. “My name is Trina.”

Trent ran a hand over his head, refusing to glance at the child. As far as he knew, he wasn’t anyone’s father. What he needed to do was call the authorities to come escort this crazy lady from his property. “Trina, if this child is mine, why am I just hearing about it now? If this happened more than a year ago, that means your kid is what…two or three months?”

Trina rolled her eyes pointing to the carrier between them. “She turned six months yesterday and… I… I didn’t know.”

“Didn’t know what?”

“I thought she was my husband’s. That was until the taping yesterday.”

If it didn’t prove him to be a complete ass, Trent would have laughed out loud. “Did you say your husband?”

Trina nodded. “It was the night of my bachelorette party in Vegas. We met and well, you… you gave me a night to remember.”

More like eighteen years, if what she was saying was true. But it’s not.

“Somehow word got back to my husband about that night and he got suspicious and suggested we go on the show to get the baby tested. Up until the wedding, we used condoms.”

Show?

“Maury.”

What the hell? Trent shook his head in disbelief and rolled his eyes. This woman was something else. And I always use condoms.

“It broke.”

Shit, Trent thought to himself, waiting for her to read his mind again. But if a condom did break, he would’ve remembered that major detail. Right? Unless it was thattrip to Vegas, the one he wanted to forget.

“He insisted we get London tested and that’s when Maury confirmed it this morning, you’re her…” Trina said. She stopped only to make sure she had Trent’s attention. She had it all right, but it was her quivering lip and shaky voice that puzzled him. “You’re London’s father.”

BLOG STOP: Kim Golden, author of ‘Maybe Forever’

Maybe ForeverI first “discovered” Kim Golden with her book, ‘Maybe Baby’ and fell in love with her storytelling skill, effortless prose, the deft characterization and strong sense of place. I reviewed that one, and then set about reading all the others. So, it is with great pleasure that I host her to talk about her return to my favorite couple, Laney and Mads, in ‘Maybe Forever’.

Welcome Kim!

In all three of your Maybe … stories, Sweden as a country is as much a character as New York City is a character in the Candace Bushnell’s ‘Sex & the City’ Tell us a little about how your personal expat experience informs your work.

I moved to Sweden for love, so I think it made my experience a bit easy. I was twenty-five when I moved here and I moved to a country where nearly everyone speaks English, which also made it easy. When I loved to Stockholm, there were not many blacks living here. I sometimes felt like a fish out of water, but it was an interesting experience. Because I was different, people would approach me, talk to me in a way that Swedes don’t normally do (they usually will not approach strangers, they don’t usually strike up random conversations or do small talk). Most of the people I met here were very friendly but it took a while to really feel like I’d made friends. Swedes can be a bit difficult to get to know—they’re reserved, they don’t often open their social circle unless they really like you—and initially I was struggling with the language. You can live here without learning Swedish, but you’ll never really feel like you’ve come into society. I’d moved here here for love and wasn’t planning on moving back to the US unless things really went pear-shaped, so I threw myself into studying Swedish, making friends absorbing as much as I could about living here and not falling into the rut of only being around other Americans.

Inevitably, all of us expats end up knowing one another. The contrasts of being an expat were definitely something I wanted to capture when I started writing the Maybe… series—how everyone seems to know everyone else, how you can pretend you don’t know the language to avoid conversations you don’t want to have, how sometimes you feel more like a Swede than an American or how life back home slowly becomes foreign.

I also wanted to capture the way that being a black woman living here meant I didn’t have to live up to these pre-conceived notions of what it means to be black. I could try new things and not be told I was trying to be white or something equally ridiculous. It’s something that gets my goat when I am back home in the US. How some people constantly say “You can’t do that because you’re black” or “only white people do that”  if you show an interest in something that isn’t “the norm”. I wanted to write about women who were free from that, even if sometimes it pops up or gives them pause. I think a lot of this comes through in my writing.

When you picture ‘your reader’, who is she/he? Do you have a target audience?

When I first began writing, I never really thought about who was my reader. I wrote the sort of stories that I wanted to read. When I wrote my first short story, I wanted everyone—men, women, black, white, whatever—to read it and love it. After a while, I realised I needed to have more focus. I knew I liked writing about relationships, specifically interracial/multicultural relationships since I had experience with it, and I thought I would gear my fiction more towards women. Probably my target reader is women, 25-40+, African American (though I found out recently I have a few fans in Lithuania and Estonia). I want *all* women to read my books, but I know there are still readers out there who won’t buy a book because they think they cannot relate to a black heroine.

I find that sometimes writers return to themes that intrigue them. I like to write about ‘broken people’ or people with secrets. Do you have a recurring theme that you return to in your work?

Infidelity seems to be a recurring theme in my books. I never intend to write about it, but it inevitably pops up—why do people cheat, what makes someone who never thought they would cheat do so… Second chances at love is another theme that pops up a lot. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen quite a few people around me who’ve reconnected with loves from their pasts and actually made it work. Or it could be that I am just a hopeless romantic (even if I think of myself as being a bit cynical).

Is there one character in ‘Maybe Forever’, male or female, that you identify with more than others? And if so, why?

I would love to be able to say that I identify most with Eddy—she’s so fearless and she doesn’t care what other people think—but I think I identify most with Laney.  In some ways, we have a similar background. My parents stayed together for the sake of the kids, but my father was often emotionally absent. We had a love-hate relationship. He didn’t understand his bookworm daughter and I didn’t understand why he was always angry. I knew I wasn’t his favorite child. I felt like a rootless tree and I always longed to be elsewhere. Laney is the same. In her case, she is rootless following the death of her mother and being abandoned by her father.

 Of all your work, which stories/books did you feel compelled to write?

Probably ‘Maybe Tonight’. I wanted to tell Mads’s side of the story. I felt like I had to dig deeper with him and get to the core of just why did he want this life with Laney so much, why did he pursue her even when he knew he probably shouldn’t have. It was interesting writing Maybe Tonight as a serial novella and getting into his head. I think it also helped me understand Laney even more, seeing her through his eyes.

Of all your work which was the hardest to write?

Maybe Baby was the hardest to write. I knew that some readers would instantly dislike Laney simply because of the infidelity angle and I wanted her to be a difficult (though likeable) character. It helped that I wrote the first draft for NaNoWriMo—it kept me from letting my inner critic sidetrack or discourage me from finishing the project. But the revision process was difficult as I tried to add deep point of view to flesh out her story. Maybe the fact that it was such a hard story to write is why I ended up loving this book so much.

Now that you have a good body of work under your belt, what’s your writing ambition? What do you want to do writing-wise that you have not yet done?

I don’t really care about being the #1 bestseller. I just want to reach readers who will enjoy my work. And I want to get to the point where I can write novels full-time instead of having to fit it around a full-time job. I know I have a lot more stories to write, so I’ll just keep writing them because it makes me happy. I would love to write a thriller similar to Paullina Simon’s ‘Red Leaves’ or a paranormal novel. I’ve got an unfinished ghost story set in Scotland with an African American heroine. Maybe I will finish it one day.

Maybe Forever PromoNow let’s talk about Mads and Laney, the couple in ‘Maybe Forever’. Pretend you’re describing them to a friend who’s never met them. Begin with ‘Laney and Mads are that couple who …’ and tell us a little about them and their relationship dynamic.

Laney and Mads are that couple who love each other so much that they sometimes forget the rest of the world exists. I like the intensity between them. I like that, for them, the connection they have and that spark that drew them together, still burns bright. They were both orphans of sorts, looking for someone who would understand what it’s like to be the one left behind (both of them lost their mothers when they were teenagers and had absent fathers), both of them felt lost or like something vital was missing from their lives and they were going through the motions of everyday life, accepting this and settling. And then they met and that recognition of finding your kindred spirit took over.

What made you want to write this one, the third book in the Maybe … series? What do you want to say that hadn’t been yet said in Mads and Laney’s other stories?

I never really planned to write this story. I was going to focus on Maybe Tomorrow and let Laney and Mads remain in their bubble of love. But one day I was talking to a friend about how her marriage nearly fell apart due to the pressures of trying to hold it together with a new baby, a toddler and trying to be perfect, and I began to wonder what would happen to Laney in that situation. Also, I felt like I wanted to strip away the perfect veneer of their lives. Yes, they love each other—they were meant to be together, but they are human, flaws and all. And I wanted to capture that story. I felt like it needed to come out.

If you had to sum up the ‘conflict’ between Mads and Laney in this book, what one word would you use, and why?

Insecurity. Both Laney and Mads are struggling to deal with their own insecurities. Laney is struggling with motherhood and not feeling adequate; Mads is struggling with his own in fear of failure, of comparing himself to Laney’s ex and fearing that—at least financially, he may not measure up. And this escalates, leads them both to do and say things they regret.

How do you write your books? Do you think of characters first, or plots? Which came first in the Maybe … series?

Usually, the characters come first. It was that way with ‘Snowbound’ and with ‘Choose Me’. And it’s definitely been that way with my new WIP (Under the Milky Way). With the Maybe… series, the characters definitely came first. I was sitting in the outdoor bar of a hotel when the characters came to me. The story flowed from there.

What should we expect from you next?

I’m finishing up another book in the Maybe… series—this one focuses on Eddy (Laney’s cousin) and what happens when she meets Henrik (Mads’s cousin) on Midsummer’s Eve. It’s called ‘Maybe Tomorrow’ and is set in Copenhagen and New York. I’m also working on a futuristic story called Under the Milky Way’ that focuses on a woman trying to come to terms with her future, an astronaut who is losing his humanity the longer he’s out in space, and a robot who falls in love. And this one is also an IR/MC story—even if it sounds like pure sci-fi. ☺

EXCERPT:

“Are you attracted to her?”

He glanced away. I saw the tension building inside of him. Instead of answering me, he began undressing. Was he ever going to answer me?

I didn’t want to cry anymore. I didn’t want to think about Benny or what he might have done with her. I kept telling myself that maybe I was overreacting—maybe there was nothing going on between them, but the telling silence continued to fester. Mads went into our en suite bathroom. As soon as I heard the shower sputter on, I ended up following him. He was already in the shower stall, his back to me as the water streamed down his body. I watched as he rinsed off a day’s worth of sweat…maybe even another woman’s scent…from his skin. But standing there watching him…I hated that I still wanted him. I still wanted him to want me and only me. And I knew that tonight might be the last time I could have him to myself. Maybe it was already too late. I was trembling, still unable to stop this unsettled feeling inside me. And when he finally turned off the shower and reached for his towel, I ran my hands along his hips and pulled him close. He turned and the tight expression on his face nearly sent me away. I steeled myself. He exhaled slowly and leaned into me. He captured my lips with his, kissing me tenderly at first, his lips grazing mine, the tip of his tongue gently urging me to let him in. I squeezed my eyes shut and let my arms tighten around him.  For a little while the rising heat between us was enough to make me forget. I let him peel away my camisole, let him push down my shorts. I kicked them aside. My body was coming alive for him even while my doubts were whispering to me, “This won’t help…”

Author Bio

Kim GoldenI grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and spent most of my childhood summers in Smithfield, Virginia. I’m not sure where my love of words comes from, but I’ve loved books since I was a child and I’ve loved writing stories for as long as I can remember.

My parents wanted me to do something practical–be an engineer, a doctor, a lawyer, an accountant. But I always dreamed of doing something completely different. I knew I wanted to be a writer, even if it took a bit of time for me to get to that point.

It led me to spend more time writing stories than studying physics and chemistry in high school. It’s what led me study literature and then work on an MFA in Creative Writing at Virginia Commonwealth University. And when I finished my master’s degree, love led me away from the US and brought me to Sweden.

So what do I write? I write about relationships, about love. I often write about interracial relationships. I like reading stories about people who are different, who see past the differences and fall in love. And those are the stories I also enjoy writing. I write stories for people who know that love comes in many colors.

Other Books by Me

Maybe Baby (Book 1 in the Maybe… series)

Maybe Tonight (Book 2 in the Maybe… series)

Snowbound

Choose Me: a novella

Linger: a short story

30 Days, 30 Stories (a Wattpad exclusive)

How can new readers find your work?

Amazon: http://bit.ly/AmazonUSMaybeBaby, http://bit.ly/AmazonMaybeTonight, http://bit.ly/KindleMaybeForever

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/NookUSMaybeBaby, http://bit.ly/NookMaybeTonight, http://bit.ly/NookMaybeForever

iTunes: http://bit.ly/iBooksMaybeBaby, http://bit.ly/iBooksKGMaybeTonight, http://bit.ly/iBooksMaybeForever

Kobo: http://bit.ly/KoboKGMaybeBaby, http://bit.ly/KoboKGMaybeTonight, http://bit.ly/KoboMaybeForever

How can your readers get in touch with you?

Email: kimtalksbooks@gmail.com

Website: http://kim-golden.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/SeeKimWrite

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kimigm

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/kimigm/

Wattpad: www.wattpad.com/user/KimGolden

 

 

You’re Invited to a Book Chat on ‘The Come Up’!

Book chat The Come UpSome of you, I know in the “real world” but sadly, others I only know in cyberspace. That makes it difficult for me to interface with folks who enjoyed my work (or didn’t) and who want to talk about it. But thank goodness for Facebook! It’s provided me the space to communicate directly with readers who not only give me feedback on my work, but great ideas about what I might write next.

After I wroteAfterwards and Afterburn, my most well-received books to date, I heard from a lot of readers who were intrigued with a secondary character, Jamal Turner. The resident Casanova from those books, who “tapped more ass than Usher.” I never planned a book on Jamal, and was frankly a little perplexed about why folks found him that interesting. But as I re-read the parts of my book where he appeared, I too became intrigued and wondered more about him. And it was from that ‘wondering’ that ‘The Come Up’ was born.

So again, I have to thank my readers, not just for liking what I write, but for inspiring what I write. Jamal Turner’s story led to the development of two other characters, Makayla and Devin. Now I’ve heard from a few folks that they’d love to talk about them and that’s amazing. So, hosted by my good friend, writer, Tia Kelly, I will be participating in an online book chat this Sunday at 5PM EST, on Facebook.

If you have the time and the will, please join us by clicking here and RSVP-ing to the event. There will be polls, games, and giveaways, and of course, just good old-fashioned conversation about books. And if you haven’t yet read ‘The Come Up’, get your copy!

On Amazon or Barnes&Noble.com

About the book:

Jamal Turner is near the top of his game. Widely-known as the trusted right-hand man to music mogul Chris Scaife, he’s poised to become chief operating officer of his friend and mentor’s international recording conglomerate. But while his career prospects have never been better, Jamal is still plagued by the memories of his humble beginnings, threatening to pull him back down just as he’s on the come up. 

Makayla Hughes knows who she is and where she comes from, and she flat out refuses to allow working in the high-powered recording industry to change her or her most closely-held friendships. But when she’s thrown into close quarters, working on a project with the notorious Jamal Turner, she begins to wonder whether her determination to ‘keep it real’ is also keeping her world very, very small. 

Jamal is drawn to Makayla, but he can’t let the man he used to be stand in the way of the man he’s becoming. There’s no doubt she fits into the life Jamal used to have, but what’s not as clear is whether she belongs in the life he wants. 

BLOG STOP: a visit from Michele Kimbrough, author of ‘Dangerously in Love’

UPDATE: ‘DANGEROUSLY IN LOVE’ is HERE!

From the Author: Break-ups are hard, especially if you’ve been in love for a long michele kimbrough 4time. When the relationship ends, you experience a loss, almost as if someone died (depending on the depth of that relationship).  When I went through my second divorce, I felt like my world had crumbled. And, in many ways, it had. Our friends divided — some stood in his corner, a few in mine. Everybody wanted me to just “get over it,” as if it were that easy. No one would allow me to go through the process of grieving the loss of my marriage and the person I considered my true love. Dangerously in Love was inspired by this feeling of loss. Sometimes we don’t realize it, but our pain informs our decisions, and in some cases those decisions lead us down a road that becomes so dark, you can’t find your way back.

Dangerously in Love 4 with authorThat’s what happened to Hilton “Hill” Parker (Dangerously in Love).  During a sizzling-hot Chicago summer, Hill becomes dangerously involved with the sultry Caitlin Church, whose casual flirtation turns his world upside down. But Hill has no idea the sea of trouble in which he is about to swim, and that certain events are already set in motion for him to take the dive. He soon learns that Caitlin is more cunning than anyone ever dreamed.

EXCERPT:
Amelia heard a clunk then loud rumbling and thumping.  She ran, trying to keep her wet galoshes from squeaking on the tile floor.  Crouched into a dark corner, she fell back a little but managed to balance herself as she felt around, trying to move whatever was in her way.  But she touched something sticky and looked at her hand.  Blood.  She turned and saw David’s ex-wife, Beth.  Amelia’s muffled scream had been concealed by a rather large man falling backward down the stairs, tumbling to a neck-breaking thud.

Clutching the briefcase, Amelia swiftly hid behind Beth’s dead body, veiled by the shadows of the basement.  She heard two, maybe three pairs of footsteps approaching.  Men.  Their gait sounded too heavy to belong to women.  Amelia trembled, trying not to make noise.  Her breathing was so hard and heavy, she feared they’d hear her.  She closed her eyes, frightened that they’d glimmer like flames in the darkness.

She heard the men scrambling around.  Their bloodstained work boots gave her tremors with each thump.  Her heart pounded with unsteady beats.  Her body quaked uncontrollably as one of the men got closer and closer… and closer.  He stood right in front of her – still for a moment – then squatted down.  He was so close, she smelled his putrid breath.  She prayed he wouldn’t see her, hoping the darkness shielded her.  Slowly, she opened her eyes, which met with his.  He smiled wryly.

“You picked a really bad day to drop by,” he said.

He reached his hand toward her.  She thought she’d lose control of her bladder.  Maybe she had.  The basement reeked of urine.  She tried to lean back but couldn’t go any further.  Her heart lunged into her throat.  Her stomach somersaulted.

He touched Beth’s hair and cheek. He sucked his teeth and stood.  He kicked Beth’s legs and her body shifted.  He stood there for a moment longer until the other men headed upstairs.

She wanted to scream – again, no air.  She couldn’t stop shaking.

One of the men yelled from upstairs.  He turned and ran up the stairs, two steps at a time.  She heard their heavy thumps above her.  A door slammed.  Two car doors closed and the heavy engine of a car revved.  Its vibrations were strong at first but receded with distance.

Amelia pushed Beth’s body to the side and it fell over, stiff like a mannequin.  She ran to the stairs, avoiding the puddles of blood along the way.  She tripped on the man’s arm at the foot of the stairs and fell on top of him – the briefcase between their bodies – staring him in the face.  She recognized him and gulped hard – she was too breathless for a scream.  It was Uncle Murphee.  Her mother’s brother, and David’s father.

In a panic, she hastily climbed the stairs, frequently losing her footing, banging her knees as she tried to regain her balance.  Still clutching the briefcase, she hightailed it to her car and sped away.

That was three years ago.

(c) 2014 Michele Kimbrough

But until this new release … check out Michele’s other titles!  


Wildflower
She faces an uncertain future, he’s haunted by a hidden past. When Iris Meadows’ husband shows up on the eve of their tenth wedding anniversary with divorce papers, after he empties their shared bank accounts and sells the house right from under her, Iris is left with only one thought in mind: that she will never again give herself wholeheartedly to love. Iris takes a trip home to Chicago, where her world gets rocked to the core — not just by the death of her mother, but by one tall, sexy man — Preston Roberts. The Windy City casts its spell on Iris who soon realizes she’s reached an unexpected fork in the road: she falls in love with Preston and must confront her hopes and fears about love. But when his hidden truth is revealed, will their love survive?

Buy ‘Wildflower’ now on Amazon.

PrudencePrudence Payne seems to have it all together if you’re viewing from the outside looking in. However, once you’re inside, it’s a completely different story. She’s a woman who’s been pushed and pulled in so many directions, she’s lost who she is. And, to add to the chaos, her best friend loses her fight to cancer. Just when she thinks she can’t take anymore, a long hidden family secret is revealed and her life is turned upside down.

But that’s not all for Prudence. She’s in love…forbidden love, at least that’s how she sees it. Boxed in on all sides, she doesn’t seem to have any fight left in her. When her boyfriend of eleven years finally proposes, she thinks things are about to turn around for her.

Richard Mayweather is a widower who lost his wife to cancer almost a year ago. He’s now a single father raising two young daughters with the help of his in-laws and lifelong friend, Prudence. When a blizzard shuts him in with his daughters and Prudence, all of the feelings he’s been suppressing for Prudence resurfaces. See, Richard’s been holding a secret for a long time. Ever since he was twelve years old, he’s been holding a torch for Prudence.

Unfortunately, there are too many obstacles between him and the love of his life. First, his in-laws. It has only been a year since their daughter died and they aren’t about to let some woman, particularly Prudence, take her place. Then there is the eleven year relationship that Prudence is in. Richard believes in second chances and he feels this is the time to seek his with Prudence.

Despite the obstacles, is Richard able to win Prudence’s heart? Or will Prudence choose to keep things just the way they are? Safe.

Buy ‘Prudence’ now on Amazon.

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BLOG STOP: a visit from Chicki Brown, author of ‘Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough’

dontFolks, this is a daring one. New from Chicki Brown, the latest in the Stafford Brothers series, ‘Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough’ features Greg Stafford and one very messy secret that’s about to be blown wide open.

One lucky, randomly-chosen commenter to this blog will get a free ebook!

*****

Blurb: New York City on-air television personality Greg Stafford is different from his brothers. He has a secret that none of the family knows about until he is arrested and the story hits the media. A scandal ensues, and he is suspended from his job for breaking the morality clause in his contract. In order to keep his position, he is ordered to submit to therapy. Little does he know that the woman who will become his counselor will become the most important person in the world to him.

From ‘Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough’:

What was that all about? Greg stalked down the block in search of a cab in his pseudo-disguise. Had Thad played a joke on him by scheduling his therapy session with the sexiest woman he’d met in months? Rhani Drake appeared to be the embodiment of what Greg considered the perfect woman. Downright tempting with thick, curly hair falling past her shoulders. A few errant tendrils dangled over her forehead, and he imagined coiling them around his fingers. As she interrogated him, he visualized how irresistible she would look beneath him with her wild mop spread out over the pillow. Not a great way to start therapy.

A taxi finally stopped for him. He got in, gave the driver his home address then dropped his head back on the seat and closed his eyes. Thankfully, he hadn’t gotten one of those talkative drivers. He needed silence to think about what had just occurred. No way would he allow himself to be attracted to the woman who wanted to deconstruct him and put him back together the way she saw fit. Right away she’d started in on his family, and he wasn’t having it. They had nothing to do with the reason he’d been sent to her. In fact, if he were more like them, he wouldn’t be in this mess to begin with. But since he had to endure three months of scrutiny, discovering why he was so unlike them might make it worth the torture.

She hadn’t asked about the actual incident, which seemed strange. After all, it’s what brought him to her office. Every time he replayed the episode he became aroused, so he tried not to dwell on it.

He’d been dizzy with exhilaration, ripped his belt open and yanked his zipper down to free himself. The alley hadn’t been the place to take her panties down, so he reached between her thighs and pulled the narrow crotch of her delicate panties aside. Melinda Price was tall and the stilettos she wore made her even taller, so he only had to bend his knees a little to get into the right position. He didn’t want to hurt her, but it also hadn’t been the time or place for foreplay or rummaging through his wallet for a condom.

Bareback time.

When he thrust into her, Melinda had taken his shoulders in a death grip. Her stiletto-clad feet came off the ground and hooked around his hips. The cry she uttered had him so drunk; he couldn’t do anything but go for the goal. Nothing else mattered. He clasped his hands under her and pumped like a madman while the world around them faded away.

She moaned and he growled through their climax. Once the blood returned to his head, Greg comprehended the voices shouting at them.

“NYPD! Release her and put your hands above your head!”

He steadied Melinda as her weak legs dropped to the ground. When he realized she wasn’t going to fall, he shoved himself back into his underwear and zipped his pants.

The officer continued, “You are under arrest for public indecency and performing a lewd act under Section 245 of the New York Penal Code.”

Arousal then shame. The story of what his life had become. How had he let himself get to this point? Greg rubbed his eyes in an effort to wipe away the scene then straightened his shoulders and told himself it would never happen again.

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