You’re Invited to ‘Wine with Writers’ in Washington DC!

Wine with Writers bannerIndie writers are an elusive breed. We don’t do a lot of public appearances, may never hit it big enough to show up on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, or even do a local radio interview. But we do love connecting with our readers, people who tenaciously dig through the hundreds of thousands of offerings on online retailers and, against all odds, find and stick with us.

So, eventually, how could we not want to meet those intrepid readers?

This fall, two of my colleagues and I will be in Washington DC, sitting down for wine, finger food and conversation at The Fridge DC, a hip, indie (of course) art gallery in the heart of Capitol Hill. The event starts to 3 p.m. sharp and will run until about 5 p.m. For this first run at ‘Wine with Writers’ we’re not going to be talking about any one book, but about the larger theme of ‘Romance, Realism and the Portrayal of African American Women in Modern Popular Fiction’. But no fear, this is not meant to be some deep, boring and dry academic lecture but a conversation among the authors and you, the guests, talking about the books we enjoy and what they mean for how AA women are portrayed in culture. In addition to myself, on hand will be authors Xyla Turner and Tia Kelly, signing books, talking about their any of their characters that grabbed you, and giving away oodles of cool stuff. And did I mention there would be wine?

Besides the great company of your fellow readers and writers, guests will receive a complimentary gift bag of books and other goodies from some of our favorites, and have the opportunity to purchase (or pre-purchase) autographed paperbacks of Xyla, my and Tia’s new (not-yet-released) books. We’re starting the ‘Wine with Writers’ franchise in Washington DC, but hope to have events in other cities in 2016, so stay tuned and look out for those events with other exciting indie authors.

Come join us on November 14th from 3-5 p.m. at The Fridge DC by getting your tickets here! Don’t wait till the last minute because space is limited. This is not a photo-op, but a private, intimate gathering of folks who love books. And wine.

And just in case you don’t know much about our work, samples and buy links are below.

Happy Reading!

N.


About Xyla Turner

Xyla Turner was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. As a teenager, Xyla wrote short stories and essays that have won numerous awards in local to nationwide competitions. She is an avid reader, but a sucker for romance. Specifically, sassy females and dominant males. Xyla is a dedicated educator and a life coach. Outside of reading, Xyla likes to spend time with her family and travel. She writes different genres, but her favorite is romance.

Her latest release ‘League of Bosses: The Client’ is available now!

League of BossesAbout ‘League of Bosses: The Client’: ‘League of Bosses: The Client; is a short story about an ambitious local plumber and his new feisty client. He’s on the fast track to success and the interruption from Tiffany, threatens his future and tempts him to throw caution to the wind and take a chance with the hot client who gets under his skin.

Excerpt:

The next day, around noon. A knock came to her door and in walked Tiffany Fox carrying a big bag of food in her right hand and another bag in her left. These were big clothing bags, but they looked heavy. She put them down and ran back outside and came back with another bag.

Every man, totaling four in the living room had their eyes glued on her ass. She had on some yoga pants, a tank top and her streaked hair in a ponytail, displaying her beautiful face. The woman was covered, but every curve could be seen and every man onsite would have a peek.

A possessiveness came over John as he heard a few low whistles and other men started to come down the stairs to see what the spectacle was about.

“Hey, guys.” She waved. “I just wanted to say thank you for all that you’ve done, so I brought lunch. I hope I’m not too late. It’s spaghetti with turkey meat sauce, salad, bread and sweet tea. I made enough for twenty-five people and I was told there were nine of you all together, so you can get seconds.”

The men were all smiles and some were openly salivating at the beautiful woman.

Before he realized it, John stood up, stalked towards her, grabbed her hand, and ground out, “A word.”

He brought her through the living room, the kitchen and to the backyard where nobody was, and seethed, “What do you think you’re doing?”

“What?” she looked confused.

“What do you mean, what?” he replied as he placed her against the door, with his body tilted down towards her.

“Why are you mad at me? I asked you if I could drop something off and you said yes.”

“Not dressed like that.”

“This is my workout gear.”

“Oh, but don’t I know it, and everyone else. You can’t come into a room full of men dressed like that with food. It’s like walking into the lion’s den. Now not only are they salivating at your food, but also salivating about you.”

“Well, I am single, John. There is no harm in looking, right?”

John’s eyes grew wide and he raised his brows. “Oh, that’s the game you play?” He lifted his hands like he was surrendering and backed away.

When he turned to leave, she grabbed his wrist and said, “Wait.”

He halted but remained turned away from her.

“I only want you to look at me, John.”

He felt like a drummer was pounding in his ears, her words were assaulting him. She was young, probably more trouble than he really wanted and just cooked a whole meal for a crew of men that were simply doing their job. Before he could think any further, she rubbed his arm and he turned and in one step partly picked her up and put her against the door again, but with his hands on her ass, holding her taut body to his.

“Say what?” He whispered on her lips.

Her breathing was labored, but she mumbled, “I just want you to look at me.”

He took her lips with his own and caressed them with his tongue. She tasted like sweet tea in the summer time. He moaned and picked her up, so her legs wrapped around his waist. He bit her bottom lip, then a small moan escaped her, which sent John over the edge. He squeezed her ass and pressed her in harder so she could really feel him. Then he pulled back.

Damn.

He released her and kept his forehead on hers.

Available NOW on Barnes & Noble, Amazon and Kobo!


About Tia Kelly

Tia Kelly is the author of contemporary and women’s fiction. She is known for her candid way of capturing life’s moments, one character at a time. You can visit her here.

About Tia’s upcoming release ‘Love Is’: Diane Collins had big plans for her life, and hoops star Warren Scott was not among them. He doesn’t want to be the face of the NBA, and she doesn’t care that he is. His reluctance to be part of the limelight disarms her and the two embark on an unlikely friendship that becomes an even unlikelier romance. 

Soon, his life is her life – filled with VIP treatment, parties and luxuries beyond Diane’s wildest imagination. But Warren is harboring a secret, and once it’s revealed Diane’s decision to stay or go could change the very fabric of who she thought she was.

Excerpt:

A low grunt beside her got Diane’s attention and she looked to her left to see a man trying to get comfortable in one of the seats. His long frame poured into the aisle in front of them as he shifted his stiff magnificent body, making his unusual length stand out even more.

Love isA family with two young children stopped in front of her and the stranger. staring openly, unlike Diane who tried to keep her gaze discreet. The mother held onto a Polaroid camera and one of the kids clutched a piece of paper and pen.

“We hate to bother you, Warrior, but do you mind?”

Diane turned to look at the guy now wearing a scowl on his face as he took the piece of paper and scrawled his name across it.

“No pictures if you don’t mind. I’m just trying to spend some quality time with my lady before our flight,” he said in a voice so low that it was barely audible.

The group moved on and Diane sighed with relief after noticing no other stragglers threatened to invade their space. Turning the page, she mumbled to her seat mate keeping her own curiosity about him in check. He was a man that clearly wanted to be left alone, but that was until she was dragged in to the imposition his celebrity caused him. “Your lady?”

“They usually leave me alone if I have company.”

She smiled, not able to resist the urge to tease him. “Glad to know I could be of assistance. By the way, I’d be highly upset if after all I did to save you from your fans if my man happens to forget my birthday this year.”

He laughed and the sound of it stirred her soul. She placed the magazine on her lap and turned to get a good look at him. He kept his head down, but she still noticed the intensity in his golden brown hazel eyes beneath thick, dark furrowed brows. A passerby interrupted their polite conversation by calling out “The Warrior.” With his head still bent, she saw his face go from relaxed to obvious discomfort. A group of young men repeated the nickname and the guy beside her clenched his jaw. Strong, angry nostrils flared above full lips and for some reason, Diane felt the need to protect him.

Her soft voice broke the tension and she placed her hand atop his forearm. “I take it you would rather they don’t recognize you.”

“Right now just isn’t the best time for me.”

“You must be pretty famous. People are whispering and staring at you.” Diane watched the corridor fill with people slowing down just long enough to get a glimpse of The Warrior as he waited at the gate.

He shrugged and shifted again in his seat, not saying anything but also not moving to get from under her touch.

A gate attendant appeared and offered him two small white flight pillows. He struggled as the attendant watched without offering any more help that might invade this man’s space. On instinct, Diane reached to help, placing the pillows behind his back only pausing to ask if that made him feel any better. When he nodded, the attendant returned to her post at the counter.

His laborious effort of pointing behind him was just as uncomfortable for her to watch. “Landed on my back during last night’s game.”

“Game?”

He smiled and laughed again.

“What’s so funny?”

“You’re refreshing.”

“No. I’m just confused. Would it be safe to assume you are referring to basketball?”

He nodded.

“No need in telling me more. I don’t follow sports so any conversation about teams and the like would be wasting your time and mine. But I do hope you find relief soon.”

The Warrior smiled and signaled to get the gate attendant’s attention.

“Your ticket?” he asked Diane.

“My what?”

He pointed toward the sign with their destination and flight number nearby. “Are you going to New Orleans, too?”

“Uh, yes.”

He stared at the ticket she used as a placeholder in the magazine and slipped it from between the pages before handing it to the attendant. “There was a mixup when my lady and I made our travel reservations. Is there any way you could seat her beside me in first class?”

Turning back to Diane after the attendant walked away, he offered a stiff shrug. “Like I said earlier, I hurt my back in the game and now the spasms are killing me. I just want to rest during the flight. Do you mind sitting with me? That’s the only way I can make sure whoever has that seat doesn’t work my nerves the next few hours.”

Diane looked back at the uniformed woman that was still smiling and typing on the computer terminal in front of her. “Why me?”

He lifted his head and once their eyes met, Diane felt herself drawn to him. Just as he opened his mouth to speak, the attendant returned holding a new ticket out for Diane to accept.
“Mr. Scott, we’re about to start boarding, but I’m willing to allow you and your companion early entry so you can get situated. Please follow me.”

Diane paused, but he nodded after standing and gestured for her to follow. Collecting her belongings and his small bag so he didn’t have to bend down to retrieve it, she walked with him toward the jet bridge.


About ‘Ivy’s League’By any measure, she is a success. By any measure that is, except her own.

Ivy Livingstone has entrée into Washington DC’s political elite, lives in an exclusive neighborhood and sends her son to a sought-after private school. But her beautiful life is a gilded cage. She is independent, but alone. And unfortunately, very few men are confident enough to believe they are in Ivy’s league.

Eli Thomason has all the confidence in the world, except when it comes to his own judgment about women. And his attraction to Ivy Livingstone proves him right. She is everything he shouldn’t want: a woman above his station and beyond his means. He overreached once before and still lives with the heartbreaking consequences, so why does he find it so difficult to leave Ivy alone?

And if their own baggage isn’t enough, Ivy and Eli have to contend with circumstances around them that seem to confirm their worst fear: that the bond they’re beginning to build can’t possibly last.

Excerpt:

As they drove, in a companionable silence, it was a complete contrast to the tension-filled trip the evening before. The morning was cool enough that Eli had to turn the heat on for the first few minutes, but after that, it was comfortable, and one of the most beautiful fall mornings Ivy could remember. The sky was the brightest blue and large cotton-ball clouds drifted by. She rested her feet on the dashboard and saw Eli glance at them, shaking his head but not complaining about them being there.

“Yknow last night?” Ivy ventured. “When a lot of things got said in like, the throes of … passion or whatever, I just wondered how many of those things hold up now, the morning after.”

“Things like what?”Eli asked.

“Things like, ‘you’re mine’ … things like that,” she said.

Eli glanced at her. “Second thoughts?”

“No,” she said quickly. “I just want to make sure you don’t have any. Men have a way of …”

“Talking nonsense before they bust a nut?”

Ivy laughed. “Well, yeah.”

“Not this man. I meant it.” He gave her another long look.

“So. At Woodmore, how does that … how are we going to make that work?”

“What the heck does Woodmore have to do with it?” Eli asked. “It’s none of their business what we do. And besides, who even knows if we talk to each other outside of that parking lot? Who would care?”

“I don’t know. Maybe Jenna Tate for instance.”

For what seemed like a long time, Eli said nothing. “How do you know about her?”

“She approached me. The morning you were sick and didn’t come. She walked up to me and made it pretty crystal clear that you and she … knew each other.”

Eli sniffed. “That was nothing. And it’s over with. Obviously.”

“Were there others?”

“No. It only took one time for me to know that it was a dummy-move in the first place.”

“Well, not one time, Eli. Because now there’s me,” Ivy pointed out.

“You think for one second, what’s going on here is like what happened with me and Jenna Tate?” he asked. He sounded angry.

“I don’t know. Because I have no idea what happened with Jenna Tate.”

“I told you, it was nothing. A horny woman who wanted to slum it for a while, and a guy dumb enough to walk right into it.”

“She wasn’t ‘slumming-it’ with you, Eli. You have to stop saying stuff like that.”

“That may not be the way I think of myself, Ivy, but it’s definitely the way some of those folks at Woodmore see me. And if you pretend otherwise, you’re kidding yourself.”

Ivy exhaled. “We’re getting off-topic. I want to know how we’re going to handle when we’re at the school. Our boys go there; it’s a very conservative school, so we can’t expose them to any …blowback.”

“What blowback? And how will we handle what exactly?”

“Eli, I don’t want to fight. I just want to know how I handle the Jenna Tates and the other women who might be curious about our relationship. What would you have me say to them?”

Suddenly Eli was pulling over to the side of the road, doing so abruptly enough that the tires screeched and gravel on the shoulder sprayed behind them. He turned to look at her, and Ivy feared for a moment that he was really angry. But he wasn’t. The only looks in his eyes were certainty, and steely determination.

“What I expect,” he said, “is for you to tell them if they ask that I’m your man. If any of them step to me, I intend to say that you’re my woman. And if any of the Upstanding Christian Brothers over there step to you, I expect you to do the same.”

Ivy’s lips twitched. “What did you call them? Upstanding …”

“I’m serious, Ivy. As for the school and the administrators, it’s none of their business, and where anyone else is concerned, you’re off the damn market.”

Ivy leaned over and nuzzled him. “I swear to god, I just got wet when you said that.”


To attend ‘Wine with Writers’ in Washington DC, buy tickets here.

SAMPLE SUNDAY: Eli’s Way

Eli's Way cover2COMING … Sooner or Later (you know I’m terrible about predicting these things), the sequel to ‘Ivy’s League’

________

From ‘Eli’s Way’:

On October 12, 2009, Eli Thomason awoke to the clear and certain knowledge that he was no longer in love with his wife. Like opening his eyes the morning after suffering through a long and uncomfortable fever, he felt the absence of that love and the lightness and emptiness in his heart where it once had been. It happened just that suddenly.

He sat up in bed and took a breath, allowing the feeling to settle inside him, examining it for authenticity. It was true—he didn’t love Stacy anymore.

She’s gone, he whispered.

Later, when he was busy and occupied with his day, the full dimensions of the realization would have dulled a little bit, but the core of his new understanding would remain—his marriage was as good as over.

What did you say?

Next to him in bed, Stacy rolled over and mumbled, looking up at him with sleepy, half-open eyes. She was just as pretty as she had always been, and now, like this, even sexy. But he felt nothing for her. The evening before had been rough and tension-filled, as most of their evenings now were.

Nothing, he said.

Stacy turned over and hugged her pillow in a way she had not hugged him in ages, already uninterested in him and whatever it was he might have had to say.

She was gone. From his heart, and now, Eli knew, soon to be gone from his life as well.

_________________

And on Tuesday February 2nd, 2015, Eli Thomason woke up with the clear and certain knowledge that he was in love in Ivy Livingstone, and would be for the rest of his life. He didn’t know how he knew, but he just did. Only three weeks since their long separation over the holidays, and one week since he had begun sleeping in her bed again, and yet he knew.

“Why don’t you do it here?”

Here?”

“Yes. Do it in the basement. There’s a lot more room, and if you’re going to be spending the entire day watching football, at least I get to know that you’re nearby.”

Only partly dressed, Ivy stuck her head out of her dressing room as she stepped into her skirt. She paused as she awaited his response. Eli smiled at her, his gaze scanning the length of her legs, clad in dark, opaque tights. Jaden was at his father’s so they could take their time getting ready for work and have breakfast together. Ivy still preferred that her son not wake up with Eli in the house since they hadn’t quite broken it to him that “Mr. Eli” was a little more than a “friend” to Mommy.

But having him host a Super Bowl party at her place certainly sounded like the kind of thing a woman would be comfortable with only if she was planning for a man to be around for a long time. Particularly since Ivy herself couldn’t care less about what was up in the NFL on any given Sunday.

“What’s the hesitation about?” she laughed, emerging from her dressing room and grabbing a silk blouse off her armchair and shrugging it on. “You’ll get to use that basement you helped me fix up. Or is it that you don’t want your friends to meet me?”

“Some of my friends can get real rowdy on Super Bowl Sunday,” Eli warned, though his misgivings went much deeper than that.

“So what? Don’t all men get rowdy on Super Bowl Sunday? The only condition I have is that you not expect me to fetch and carry buffalo wings, and chips and beer and what-not. Another thing that happens to men during football season is that they turn into Neanderthals and start ordering their women around.” She winked at him and went looking for her pumps.

While she executed her search mission, Eli reached for his overnight bag and grabbed his undershirt. He had a job clear on the other side of the Beltway and would have to leave in half an hour if he wanted to be at the job-site before his guys got there. But for that time constraint, he would have wanted to have more of a conversation about this. Hosting a football party with a bunch of dudes at Ivy’s house shouldn’t be that big a deal, but it was. Last night he noticed when he opened the fridge that she had added some of his favorites to her grocery list, and in her bathroom, there were new toiletries, an extra toothbrush, razors and other items he invariably forgot to bring when he spent the night.

For Ivy, these things were a natural progression of their relationship and she didn’t make a big deal or attach any expectations to them. But Eli did. They had stumbled a little coming out of the gate, but now he felt as though they were as strong a unit as he’d ever known. And if he’d learned anything about Ivy, he was pretty sure she was ten steps ahead of him, and probably already knew what he had only that morning realized—that any outcome other than the two of them being together was unacceptable.

Catch up by reading ‘Ivy’s League’! Available now on Kindle and Nook.

SAMPLE SUNDAY: Ivy’s League

Strong Enough promoMost Sundays I just post a sample and let it speak for itself. This time, I wanted to tell you a little more about why I wrote this book. I had a couple of creative inspirations, as I mentioned in a previous blog, and this book came out of me and poured onto the page in less than a week because of that inspiration. But in addition to the folks that helped this idea germinate, for a while I’ve observed something interesting: while some Black women have been bemoaning the lack of “good men” there is a segment who see that problem from a unique perspective–meeting men who are perfectly “good” but who think that by virtue of  her individual success somehow, she would not consider them as partners. And of course, there’s always the segment of friends and family who are beating that drum as well and reinforcing the “scarcity of men” message, but particularly for women who are successful in their own right.

I have a friend who was planning to buy a house and her mother told her not to because then “men will think they can’t do anything for you that you can’t do yourself.” Her mother was basically telling her not to price herself out of the market! (She went ahead and bought the house, by the way).

Another variation on this theme comes when, like Ivy, a successful woman meets a man whose own success is comparatively modest and he starts hearing our society’s mantra in his head about men having to be the breadwinner and provider so the relationship goes awry either because he begins to feel competitive with his woman, or simply insecure. And of course it’s not always the man’s fault. I personally know a couple women who thought they were prepared to be in a relationship with a man with less than them, and who later found out that it was they who were hearing that mantra about men providing and they who came to resent their man for not being that person. One friend complained to me about her man not being able to cover the full cost of an expensive tropical vacation she’d planned for them.

Now, of course my little book doesn’t give any answers to this dilemma, but it was a lot of fun describing all the troubling questions that arise. Anyway, I hope you’ll check it out. And to help encourage you to do that, here’s a little snippet of ‘Ivy’s League’.


From  ‘Ivy’s League’:

He was there for almost thirty minutes, standing by himself near the bar before Ivy noticed he was gone. And when she did, Eli watched her look frantically around the room like someone who had just realized they misplaced their car keys or phone. Then she stood and finally located him, her shoulders sagging in relief. Leaning over to whisper something in Ryann’s ear, she gave a brief wave to Bernie and the other guy and then headed toward him.

“What’s the matter?” she mouthed when she was directly in front of him.

Over her shoulder, back over at the sofas, Eli saw Ryann shake her head and roll her eyes.

“I’m tired, Ivy,” he said loud enough so he could be sure she heard him. “It’s been kind of a long day.”

“Okay, so let’s go. Why didn’t you say something?” She took his hand and after one last wave in the direction of her friends, they left.

In the truck, Ivy immediately slid her shoes off her feet and curled them beneath her, using her coat as a blanket and resting her head on his arm. Eli’s minor irritation grew. He needed her to recognize his mood and respond to it; he didn’t want to have to tell her he was feeling crappy. As unfair as it was, that was what he felt like right now—and if Ivy wasn’t half-drunk and hadn’t been spending all her time with her friends she would have detected his mood ages ago. Because that was the way Ivy was with him—attentive, nurturing, intuiting what he wanted in and outside the bedroom.

In just a matter of weeks, Eli was strung out on that, and on her. He wanted her all the damn time, and it frustrated him that in watching her with her friends tonight, he realized something—it wasn’t the same for her. She had a complete other life without him in it. If he wasn’t there, she would find a Bernie to fill his slot in an instant.

“How much did you drink?” He was picking a fight and he knew it. But if he was uncomfortable, he was damned if she wasn’t going to be uncomfortable too.

“I can’t even remember. We started early, like I told you. Ugh. I better get lots of water in me tonight.”

“Right. Because I don’t want you hung over at my mother’s Thanksgiving dinner.”

At that, Ivy sat up and looked at him. “I’ll be fine for tomorrow. All I need is a lot of water.”

“Because you’ve done this before, I guess.”

“Done what before, Eli? Gone out with friends and had a couple too many. Yeah, I guess I have. But only very occasionally. Unless you forget, I have Jaden most of the time, so it’s not like this is a habit or something.”

“And what about that Bernie guy? Him hanging on you like that, is that a habit?”

“Eli.” Ivy’s voice was firm and she sounded completely sober all of a sudden. “Stop it. What is it? What’s really going on?”

And at that, he deflated. Eli’s heart contracted with a strong emotion he recognized all too well. Except this was stronger, deeper than anything he’d felt before. This was so strong, so deep he could almost feel it choking him. She knew him. She knew him. It had been no time at all, and she could read him like a book.

“Bad day,” he managed. “That’s all.”

Ivy reached out and touched his cheek. “Sorry to hear that, baby,” she said, stroking him there. “Want to talk about it?”

Eli told her about the check bouncing and about the overdraft, about his fears for the winter and about Zion’s school fee. On any other day, he might not have thrown that part in, but what the hell? The weight of it felt like too much sometimes, and Ivy was always there, wanting to lighten the load.

“I’ll take care of it,” she said unexpectedly.

“Take care of what?”

“All of it. I’ll loan you some cash until you clear things up, and then …”

“No. I’m not letting you pay my son’s school fees. My bank fees.”

“I’m doing neither of those things. I’m loaning you some money for a couple weeks, and that’s all.”

“What’s the difference?” Eli snapped, his voice sharper than intended.

“The difference is I’m not giving you something you wouldn’t otherwise have, I’m just helping you stop the bleeding until you can catch up with the person who put you in this mess.”

“And if I don’t? If they don’t pay me right away? Then I’ll owe you.”

“And wouldn’t you rather?” Ivy challenged. “Wouldn’t you rather owe me than Woodmore? Than the bank?”

“No,” he said. “I wouldn’t.”

“Then you’re an idiot,” Ivy said. This time she was the one who snapped.

She pulled away, leaning against the passenger side door rather than on him, and neither of them spoke for the rest of the way to her house, which was saying something since the ride was not a short one. Once there, Ivy got out before him, walking barefoot to the front door and letting herself in, leaving it open for Eli to follow.

He had spent many nights here before, and was familiar with every room now, but tonight it felt foreign. Its … niceness was an affront. The high ceilings he admired, the granite countertops in the kitchen and pristine floors throughout were all trumpeting his failure and crying out her success. Eli dropped his overnight bag at the foot of the stairs leading to the second level, considering whether he should stay.

“Do you want one?” Ivy was standing in front of her Viking refrigerator, holding a bottle of water up to him.

“No thanks,” Eli shook his head. “Look …” he began. In the kitchen, her back to him as she stood in front of the open fridge, Ivy froze, waiting. “I think I’m just going to head out. I need to be alone tonight. Tomorrow I’ll just come before dinner to get …”

“No.” Ivy turned and shut—no, slammed—the refrigerator door.

It was Eli’s turn to freeze.

“You’re staying here,” she said. “That’s what we planned and that’s what we’re doing. I’m not letting you go off somewhere and lick your wounds because you had a bad day and God forbid, I’m in the financial position to help. No, Eli. We are not doing that. You’re not leaving.”

He gave a brief laugh.  “Ivy, what the … what’re you going to do? Physically prevent me?”

She came from behind the kitchen counter and stood in front of him. “Of course, I can’t do that,” she said, and her lips were trembling.

Feeling like an asshole, Eli put a hand at the side of her face. “Look, don’t … don’t cry or anything, a’ight? You just don’t understand, Ivy. As a man, I can’t …”

“Stand the idea that I might have something you don’t? That I can help when you need it? No, I don’t understand—you’re right. What if the situation were reversed? Would you want to help me?”

“Of course. But that’s what a man is supposed to do!”

“And a woman is supposed to be her man’s helpmate.”

Eli exhaled and ran a hand over his head, removing his knit cap and resting it on the foyer table. His coat he removed and hung in the coat closet. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Ivy’s shoulders relax now that she knew he wasn’t leaving.

“C’mon,” he said, taking her hand and grabbing his bag. “Let’s just go upstairs and get some sleep. Tomorrow’s going to be a long day.”

By her slight hesitation, Eli knew that Ivy’s impulse was to insist that they stay and talk it out. But it didn’t matter how long they talked, or what she said. He wasn’t taking her money. To do so would make him feel small, and that wasn’t what he wanted to feel with her. That was too much like the place he’d been before.


‘Ivy’s League’ is available now on Kindle and Nook.

What Had Happened Was …

The Education of Miri Acosta coverSo you may or may not have noticed that I’ve been away for a while. Not literally, but figuratively. I haven’t blogged, haven’t done as much online promotion of my work, and definitely haven’t been writing with the same regularity. Instead I’ve been reading, working, falling in love with my partner and out again, and in love again … and so on, playing, traveling, hanging with friends, making some enemies (yeah, for real) and living, basically. And so there it is–not sexy, but that’s my excuse for not getting ‘The Education of Miri Acosta’ out this month. More about that later, but for now, let me just say … I’m back in the saddle and rearing to go.

I guess I could leave it at that, but I’m not going to. I want to tell you what I’m going to be up to next, because as solitary as the writing part of writing is, the rest is a group exercise. You read what I write (thank God) and you sometimes like it, and sometimes you write me notes, leave me comments and give me the fuel that gets me through the rough spots, or the encouragement to up my game next time. And a lot of readers give me ideas–for characters and plot points I might consider, or even entire books I might write. I can feel a lot of you out there rooting for me, waiting for me, and believing in me, or I’ve seen you, posting the gentle social media nudge to ‘get back to work already’.

All of it is appreciated.

There’s something writers don’t always tell you but I’m going to let you in on the secret. You ready? Here it is: there was a time when we wrote furtively, secretly, quietly and alone (some of us still do). We wondered whether there would ever be another soul, besides a lover, a friend, or a family member who read what we wrote and cared about it. We silently suffered with the knowledge that though the writing itself was fulfilling, it wasn’t always enough–we wanted someone else to hear our voice on the page and tell us it was good. That’s the secret. The ‘pressure’ we moan about, the pushes and nudges to ‘get back to work already’ are part of the dream, almost as much as the writing itself. To know that you contribute to the richness of the human experience with your words alone? Man, for me there is no high higher than that.

So now that I’ve admitted that I am not so cool that I can pretend not to give a shit what readers think, back to my plans. ‘The Education of Miri Acosta’ is next up. August was the plan, but it’s now mid September. I won’t give a precise date because you know I never meet those deadlines anyway and it causes me heartburn when I know people are waiting and I’m not delivering. But about the book: I like this one. It’s more ‘pure romance’ than anything I’ve written in a while, about young love, crazy passion; learning that who you are is not who you may have planned to be, and figuring out that book smarts don’t equal emotional intelligence. It that strikes your fancy, read the blurb on Goodreads, here.

Following Miri’s story will be the one I’ve been dying to complete, Lorna Terry’s comeuppance, which is working titled ‘Art and Soul’. In that one, the mother of Riley, (who you may remember from ‘Commitment’, etc.) meets her match in a somewhat younger lover who is not intimidated by her radical feminism, and who forces her to face some of the consequences from her choices in the past; and to confront the possibility of a very different future than the one she envisioned. Meet Lorna and her intrepid younger man by reading these shorts: ‘Forty-Six’ and ‘Stalemate’.

And finally, on the encouragement of a writer-friend, and because I’m a sucker for people’s requests for “more” of a couple, I am working on Jamal and Makayla’s follow-up to ‘The Come Up’, this one titled ‘The Takedown’, will follow the very real challenges to the unlikely (and some say mismatched) couple’s relationship. It’ll also follow Jamal’s ascension to the pinnacle of his career, and Makayla being thrust even deeper into a life she’s ambivalent about at best, and outright distrustful of at worst. For me, the cool stories happen when a couple is together but external and internal conflicts work against them–the stuff that comes after the ‘I-love-yous’ are said and believed. This book will hopefully be one of those ‘cool stories’.

So that’s where I am. Until I get something out there, visit me on Facebook, or Pinterest. Send me email, post something on this blog. I know you’re out there, and I am most definitely listening.

Happy Reading.

N.

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.”

‘And Then’ Author Tia Kelly Drops in with a Few Friends

And ThenHello Nia Forrester readers! Hi Nia! Thanks for inviting me to hang out today to share what I’ve been up to… I’m so exhausted these days from writing, family stuff and more writing. I feel like my eyes are crossing and look forward to a little break during the holidays. Regardless, I am so happy to be in this place and can’t wait to tell you about my latest book And Then.

 

Well a few weeks ago, I released my sixth story Playing for Love.  As much as I love the Wilkersons and look forward to what is ahead in the rest of the series, I knew that particular novel would take readers on an emotional roller coaster. I decided I couldn’t close out 2013 that way… I wanted to make the ride a little bit smoother as we transition into another year. So I decided to release one more novel this month – And Then. It’s not quite a holiday tale, but it is… well… calmer. Kind of. Perhaps I’ll just leave it at smoother.

 

“Smoother?” Shelby asked. “Did you even read The Love Sessions? That was a little much if you ask me and now you want to soften it up?”

Veronica raised her glass and nodded. “Agreed.”

“Excuse me?” I turned around to look at these faces and shake my head. Then I realize the “voices” I hear came from some of my characters. I really think I need to catch up on sleep… I’m hearing and seeing things. Mya Sinclair, Shelby West, Veronica Brooks and Marie Sinclair are talking to me. And I see them.

“You think you need sleep, try working with a husband with an international roster of athletes calling all hours of the day and night. No concept of time zones whatsoever,” Mya chimed in.

I dart my eyes around the table. Wait, table? How did I end up at a table in the middle of a restaurant? I nervously glanced at Shelby who was eyeing me above her salt-rimmed margarita glass.

She murmured. “You’re the one always writing about us eating when we’re together. Why are you so surprised?”

“I do not!” I snap, feeling defensive. Okay, I am not arguing with a fictional character… Am I?

“Just roll with it. You have to pick and choose your battles with these three. I do,” Marie whispered before sliding a bowl of salsa my way. She winked and I politely smile before reaching for a tortilla chip. My hand collides with Mya’s and she laughs.

“Don’t mind her. She’s always stuffing her face,” Veronica joked. “So, what’s this about a new book? I thought you said all you planned to write about in the last one.”

“I did,” I replied. Damn, these are some good chips and salsa.

Mya looked across the table at me with a smile. “I told you.”

I couldn’t help my own grin. These women reminded me of old sister-friends, the kind of friends you want to know are in your corner through good times and bad.

As if reading my mind, Veronica chimed in, “You made sure we experienced our share of both. I wasn’t crazy about how you left things for me in The Love Sessions.”

“Did you read And Then?” I asked.

Veronica nodded and pointed to her e-reader on the table. “I was just telling the girls I might give the rest of your work another chance now. I stopped reading for awhile there.”

“I hope you have some juicy stuff between me and the hubby,” Shelby said as she reached for Veronica’s reader. “May I?”

Veronica handed it to her and Shelby started tapping the screen. Shelby added, “I already one-clicked it. I plan to read it this weekend when I get some free time. Now that I’m on winter break, I can finally catch up on all of my to be reads.”

“I finished it this morning. Pretty slick of you to drop another book like that without telling anyone. I happened to see it mentioned on Facebook that you had a new one out and it was about us,” Mya remarked. “By the way, we need to talk about Carlos.”

“Why does everyone bring up Carlos Ortiz? He was in another series altogether.” I asked.

The ladies exchanged glances with each other, but no one would say anything. The one I counted on to speak up was the most tight-lipped – Veronica.

“Don’t look at me,” she said. “You know that’s not who I am anymore.”

“You’re okay with that?” I asked.

Veronica shrugged. “Did I have a choice? Life happens and we learn from our mistakes. Things could have been a lot worse for me, but I guess with children present and it being the holidays you cut me some slack.”

Slowly a sly smile flashed across her face just as Shelby interjected. “There were little ones in the last one and Tia didn’t hold back.”

“True,” Mya said quietly.

“Wait, do you all think I was that harsh in The Love Sessions?” I ask.

They exchanged looks again until Veronica finally spoke up. “No you weren’t harsh. It was just very emotional. Actually, The Love Sessions was eye opening. At least it was for me. I wish I read it before Darius and I decided to divorce each other. Maybe things would have been different for us.”

Veronica sighed and looked away. Then something made her look back at me and I saw maturity in her eyes that I never noticed before. “I did love him. You never gave me a chance to say it to him, but Darius was my first and possibly only love. I always wondered if I could go back… if you could rewrite The Love Sessions, would you let me tell him? Would it have changed anything?”

The table got quiet. Several servers appeared and placed large platters in front of everyone and the ladies went about eating. I noticed the plate in front of me loaded with one of my favorite dishes… enchiladas verdes.

Marie giggled and pointed to the cheesy, gooey loveliness I was staring at. “Just like you think you know us so well, we know you, too. Thank Shelby for ordering for you. Somehow she knew you would show up.”

I dig in trying to ignore that nagging feeling reminding me that the food could not be real, just like these women are nothing but fonts on a page.

“Really? You want to go there?” Shelby asked, arching a brow high as she looked at me. “If we aren’t real, why bring us back for another book?”

I thought about her question. I wanted to answer her, but I also wanted to sanely respond in a way that would not attract attention if anyone happened to notice me having a conversation with myself in the corner of a restaurant (that was if I really happened to be in this incredible place with delicious Mexican food).

“My last novel, Playing for Love, was a little hard for me to write and release. It picked at some old scabs. I needed that comfort afterward; you know the feeling you get when surrounded by old friends. You all have been that constant this year and there when I experienced some really big moments like the USA Today review. Shelby, you were my first character that I introduced to the world. It feels like yesterday when I imagined you and Matthew walking into Cowboys Stadium.”

Shelby smiled at me and nodded. I looked over at Mya and knew she was still hesitant to open up with me now. She endured so much and I don’t think she understood how much it hurt me to write her going through it.

“I know,” Mya whispered. She reached for my hand and squeezed it. “It’s okay.”

“Mya, you were the one everyone wanted to strangle. Remember? You made it hard for Donovan,” I said. She nodded and I continued, “But I knew that there was more to you. The funny thing is, I believe Donovan always understood you better than I could as the writer. It was the love I felt between you and Donovan that made me want to explore unconditional love. That love I feel like is missing in the media. That’s why I needed to come back home to where it all started, to be around all of you when I closed out the year. I needed you.”

Veronica reached for a tissue and dabbed her eye. And then she cleared her throat and said quietly, “I am glad you came back to us. We needed you, too. Obviously, a lot has changed since The Love Sessions. Seeing where we all ended up in And Then was a great way to bring the series to a close.”

“Who said that was the end?” I suddenly asked. “A few of you are not attached and you know how I am in love with love. Anything is possible.”

Marie groaned and held up both hands. “Someone please take Tia’s pen away.”

A ringing phone was heard above the sudden bickering and I watched Mya reach for it. She answered it and nodded while she spoke. Then she passed me her cell and said, “It’s for you.”

I take the phone and look at it, musing that there I was with imaginary people, eating pretend enchiladas and now taking *insert air quotes* a phone call.

“Hello?”

“Hey Tia! It’s Donovan Sinclair.”

Now this is getting out of hand. “Yes, Donovan?”

“The guys and I are at our favorite spot grabbing a bite and wanted to know if you’d mind swinging by. We have a few questions about this book you just put out about us.”

“Remind her we are lawyers.” I heard in the background.

Crap.

I chewed on the corner of my lip and the ladies shook their heads amusingly. “Sure Donnie. I guess I should ask Mya for the directions?”

“Why? Now you want to ask for help doing something?”

I recognized the voice and realized that either Jackson took the phone or I was on speakerphone. Finally I sighed and gave in. “Give me half an hour to get there. I’m not leaving until I finish these enchiladas.”

Then I hung up the phone, passed it back to Mya and grabbed my fork.

“I heard Donnie’s not happy with this one,” she said, after putting the phone back in her bag. “He managed to get an advanced copy of it and read it the other night.”

Shelby added, “Eric’s not pleased either. You know how he hates our business being put out there.”

I looked at Veronica and she shrugged. “Why are you looking at me? You broke Darius and me up two years ago, remember?”

I rolled my eyes and sighed.

Figures while I was busy trying to finish up my Christmas shopping my characters had a bone to pick with me about my writing.

The server stopped by to place the check on the table and the ladies all looked my way. I shook my head and stood up. “You all looked pretty cozy before you pulled me into this hallucination. I’m sure you can cover the bill.”

 

Now to figure out how to handle the men…

 

Click here to read an excerpt from And Then.

 

About And Then

All’s well that ends well… Or is it? For Donovan, Mya, Eric, Shelby, Veronica and Darius, their guess is as good as anyone else’s. With the Love Sessions workshop behind them, life goes on for the group that reminded others the significance of marriage vows. Now, together they face another important lesson – rediscovering the meaning of love.

 

Donovan and Mya Sinclair’s marriage might appear intact, but something is amiss behind closed doors. Eric and Shelby West battled through their share of storms before, but Shelby refuses to let anything disturb their household again even if her husband invites it into their home. Veronica and Darius Brooks quietly divorced two years ago hoping to close a fifteen-year chapter in their lives, but it’s hard to bury the past when reminders of it pop up every day. While Mya is determined to figure out how to fix the issues in her own marriage, it just might help a few people along the way while bringing old friends back together once again.

 

And Then is the follow up to The Love Sessions, a novel in the Love Sessions series by Tia Kelly featuring: Love’s Rebound, Give Me You, Save Me From You and The Love Sessions.

 

Buy Links:

Kindle

Nook

 

Social Media Links

http://www.TiaWithAPen.com

Facebook.com/AuthorTiaKelly

Twitter.com/TiaWithAPen

Sitting with Synithia Williams — Author of New Release ‘A Heart to Heal’!

synithia williams head shot

Since my journey as an indie author began I’ve been fortunate to meet many writers in the blogosphere and on social networks that I might never have encountered otherwise.

They are all unique and powerful voices, some very different from mine and others quite similar.

Synithia Williams is one voice in the latter category. Like me, she writes what I like to term ‘real relationship’ stories that look at characters who are not cookie-cutter perfect, and who have real issues and baggage that they bring to their relationships. For that reason, it is my pleasure to host her on my blog to talk about her work.

Welcome, Synithia!

Hi Nia! Thanks for having me on your blog today.

It’s my pleasure, Synithia! Let’s jump right into it. For me one of the most fascinating things about writers is what motivates them to put words to the page. Tell us, why do you write?

The reason I write is because I can’t imagine myself not writing. I wrote my first story when I was 6 and have written stories (dabbled in terrible poetry) and recorded my thoughts in a journal for years. Even if I wasn’t published, I would still be writing story ideas. down.

If you weren’t a writer, what would you do?

What I do now, which is work on environmental projects. It was my dream in college to work for the Environmental Protection Agency, but I’m more satisfied working in local government where my efforts have a direct impact. My dream job though would be to travel the world doing archaeological digs.

Cool! Maybe there’s a story in your future with that profession as a backdrop. But for now, you’re writing romance novels. Tell us about that. The romance genre seems saturated these days—what are some of the things you want readers to know about your work that makes it different from other romance authors?

I like flawed characters. My heroes/heroines are not perfect people. Real love is hard, you have to work for it, and I make my characters work to find their happily ever after.  I don’t always solve every problem they have, because life doesn’t work like that. After the happily ever after there are still other issues that will play in the couple’s lives; but what I hope readers realize, is that my characters can survive their other issues, because they’ve found their perfect life partner.

So what’s your favorite kind of hero? And then tell us about your favorite kind of heroine.

I like heroes that are hard men. I do believe a man can cry, but not on every page. I also like realistic heroines. Women that I can relate to in some fashion.

Okay, so that gives me some sense of how you might answer this next question but I’ll ask it anyway. What makes a story “great” and not just “good” in your opinion?

That moment when you’re reading and realize you won’t be able to stop unless someone rips the book from your cold dead hands. I wish I knew what makes that type of book because I’d bottle and sell it, lol! It’s a combination of characters and plot. You have to care for the characters, but the plot has to keep moving to keep you engaged.

How do you think of your stories? Do you start with plot or characters?

I start with plot then work out the characters. I’m learning to try and get a better focus on characters in the beginning—it makes revisions a lot easier. But my stories always start with an idea versus a certain character type.

What about writing rituals? Do you have any that help you get those creative juices going?

Not really. When I’m procrastinating I’ll do a writing sprint to get myself going. Basically I’ll set the timer for 20 minutes and write continuously until the timer goes off. By then I’m in the groove and can keep writing.

What does your writing space look like? Describe it for us.

I write at my kitchen table. Usually after 9 p.m., with the TV on PBS for background noise, a glass of wine and a bowl of popcorn at my side.

I know I like hearing from people who’ve read my work. It makes me feel less like a voice hollering in the wilderness. What was the last communication you received from a reader and, if you don’t mind sharing, what did it say?

A reader commented on Facebook that she just read A Heart to Heal, loved it, told three friends, and they are reading it too. I appreciate those comments more than the readers know. It’s easy to believe your writing sucks, the story isn’t good and no one will like it. While some will say that, I feel less like I wasted months writing if somebody likes it.

Tell us about ‘A Heart to Heal’—your third release with Crimson. What drew you to this story?AHTH Cover2

I wanted to write about the non-typical heroine. Shayla Monroe is damaged. She’s had to deal with rumors all of her life and to a certain extent she let those rumors define her. I wanted to tell the other side of the story, what may be going on with the “bad” girl and why she still deserves the love of a good man.

Here’s the blurb:

Shayla Monroe fled her hometown of Helena, South Carolina, after a shocking situation broke the heart of the only guy she’d ever loved. Years later, after losing her job in Atlanta with her name once again shrouded in scandal, she has nowhere to go but home.

Now a devastatingly handsome and well-respected man, Devin Jones became a successful doctor as a way to forget Shayla’s betrayal. When she returns as infamously as she left, he plans to put aside old feelings and treat her as any other person in town. But after looking into her soft brown eyes, the feelings he thought long dead quickly rush to the surface.

Ignoring rumors, disapproval from family and friends, and promises to avoid each other, the two become friends … then lovers. Devin wants all or nothing, but Shayla, haunted by her past, is afraid their relationship will damage what’s left of her reputation. Can two broken hearts survive the fight against past and present demons to heal and find love?

That sounds great Synithia! Imperfect heroines are a weakness of mine so this is one I definitely plan to read and review.

Thanks for stopping by!  

If you want to get ‘A Heart to Heal’, the options are endless. Here’s where you can do that:

And if you want to follow Synithia and her work, she can be found:

Please feel free to leave a note for Synithia and you may be one of two lucky commenters to win a free copy of ‘A Heart to Heal’!

Happy Reading!

N.