NEW RELEASE! ‘THE MAKEOVER’

This is my first release of 2018, y’all! It was a really fun but in some ways tough one to write. I’m not sure I’ve ever tried to do a book (that isn’t a sequel), where the couple is very much in love from page one, and have a long, rich, shared history. They’re also just regular people in that they had happy home lives, no deep, dark secret or significant trauma to work through, but just usual ‘couple-stuff’ — information that shouldn’t have been withheld, feelings that they don’t fully understand or explain, and a litany of advice from various friends and family, sometimes sending them off course. That was the fun part of writing ‘The Makeover’.

Writing un-tortured souls is new for me, so that was the tough part. But I thought I’d give it a shot, especially as a counterpoint to all the negativity that seems to be out there in the world lately. I wanted to do something fun, and light and easy to digest. I hope I succeeded, and I hope you check out — and enjoy–‘The Makeover’.

Here’s a sample, to whet your appetite!

Happy Reading!

N.

A Modern Love Story

From ‘The Makeover’:

“So,” Sam began. She had taken her favorite spot in her large brown suede armchair that had seen better days, and curled her legs beneath her. “What was all the cock-blocking about?”

Colt almost tripped over the coffee table, before sinking onto the sofa. “What?

“I wanted to stay, Colton. And you just barged into my conversation and …”

“Wait. Hold up. When you say cock-blockin’ you mean you were about to go home with that nigga?”

“Don’t say that word.” Sam closed her eyes and shook her head. “You know I hate it when you use that word.”

“Okay, fine. Lemme rephrase that. You were about to go home with that knocka? That clown. That …”

“I get your point. And probably not, but you didn’t know that! What if I were to come up to you and Bambi and drag on your shirttail and mess things up for you?”

“I wouldn’t have thought about it that way. If you wanted to jet, that would be the move. Plain and simple.”

Sam shook her head again, clearly disbelieving.

“But let’s get back to this whole cock-blockin’ comment. I mean, you do that shit, Sam?” He leaned forward. “Meet dudes in bars and then just … what? Let them …” He broke off, finding himself unable to even voice the thought let alone imagine the pictures that went along with it.

“I have … experiences,” she said vaguely, not meeting his gaze. “I mean, I’ve done some things. Haven’t you? I mean, I know you have.”

“It’s different.”

“How’s it different, Sir Sexist?”

“If I go home with a woman, I don’t worry about my safety. I don’t worry that she might overpower me, rape me and then slit my damn throat in the middle of the night.”

Sam pulled back. “God. Graphic much?”

“Because that’s the kind of shit that happens out here. To dumb-ass chicks who meet strangers in bars and take them home.”

“Why’re you getting so heated? It’s not like I’m a virgin.”

“I know. But I …” He stopped.

But he just didn’t think about it. The idea of Sam having actual, real-ass sex with some dude, the idea of her fucking some dude, he had avoided by not thinking about it. It was like a literal black hole in his consciousness—a sensory deprivation chamber, thankfully devoid of sight, sound, and everything else.

In college, she lost her virginity to some kid in one of her study groups. A nerdy dude who wore khakis and top-siders. When she told him—or rather when he pried it out of her—Sam hadn’t given any details, thank God, other than that she had finally “done it.” He’d seen the difference in her for weeks; a new awareness of her body, and sensuality in her movement. The kinds of changes that happen when a woman discovers her sexual power.

Colt remembered going out and shooting hoops till he was exhausted, and then calling a girl, whose name he didn’t even remember now, to come over so he could exhaust himself another way. He remembered eyeing the dude Sam told him she’d slept with and considering backing him up and telling him to leave her alone, except that everything he might say would be such a cliché: ‘you leave her alone, she’s a nice girl,’ or ‘you better not hurt her, or I’ll kick your ass.’

None of that seemed to apply, because he saw Sam with dude, and how he treated her like a queen. If he treated her right, then Colt had no cause to complain.

And if they were having sex, well … Colt would just not think about that part.

That had been his habit since, when men would enter and leave Sam’s life. And it was easy most of the time, because he wasn’t around for much of it, and the men were always temporary. There had been the one knucklehead who had lasted almost two years. Some dude she didn’t talk about much, who’d been around during Colt’s rookie year.

Other than that, if there were men in Sam’s life, they were like ghosts, a series of names that meant little: Eric, Jeff, Daniel, Jerome … whatever. Dudes who remained vague and whose stints in Sam’s life were briefer than the length of a basketball season.

“I mean … how many dudes we talkin’ ‘bout?” he asked now.

“How many women have you slept with?” Sam challenged. “And if you say it’s not the same, I will throw this wineglass at your head.”

“Well it’s not.” He sat back again. “But for real. How many?”

Sam stared at him. She downed the rest of her wine, and her eyes seemed to pierce right into his, behind his, and deep into his confused mind. She chewed on the corner of her bottom lip.

“Colton.” Her voice was quiet, and her expression suddenly solemn.

“What?”

“If I ask you something, will you promise to tell me the truth?”

“Of course. Always.”

“Okay, but this time you might be tempted not to. So, I want you to promise.”

He shrugged. “I promise.”

“Were you …” She looked down at her lap then up at him again. “Tonight, when you saw me with Aidan …”

“Was that his name? The joker with the ugly-ass watch?”

“Colton.”

“Okay, go ahead. Was I what?”

“Jealous.”

Colt blinked and swallowed back the instinctive denial.

Fuck it.

“Yeah,” he said, finally, looking off to an area just above her head. “Little bit.”

Sam stood and came toward him.

Colt froze when she stopped, standing between his legs. She straddled him. Her knees on either side of his thighs. She lowered her weight, so she was on his lap.

Sam.”

“What?”

“We can’t …”

“I was jealous too,” she said, talking over him, her words tumbling forward in a rush.

Colt looked up at her and she gave a little one-shouldered shrug.

Available now, exclusively on Amazon.


 

From ‘Because My Heart Said So’

lena-and-quentin-coverSo you may have heard that Jacinta Howard, Rae Lamar, Lily Java and I released a compilation of novellas, under the title ‘Because My Heart Said So’ this spring. Well, this winter, we’re each releasing the full-length novels for the stories started in that book. My contribution, ‘Acceptable Losses’ is excerpted here. Check it out, and if you haven’t already, check out ‘Because My Heart Said So’. 

About ‘Acceptable Losses’:

Quentin is in the middle of a separation from his wife that seems to have no conclusive end in sight, while Lena is stuck in Single Girl Hell. The only respite either of them have is their regular coffee dates, while working on shared projects at a very demanding job. Sick of hearing about Lena’s semidisastrous attempts to couple-up, Quentin decides to fix her up. With his brother. Seems like a perfect solution; after all, his brother is a decent enough guy and Lena deserves that. Perfect … until it appears that the fix-up might actually work.

From ‘Acceptable Losses’:

Mara looked amazing.

She had colored her hair a reddish-copper shade that complemented her dark skin and gave it a subtle, bronze glow. When Quentin first saw her a couple nights earlier, it was a surprise. It was still short, the look she favored to accentuate her high cheekbones and full lips, but in a different, more modern style. And as always, Mara looked flawlessly chic. Sitting across the table from her in Kapnos, their second dinner date in three days, Quentin recalled what he used to feel like being the man with her on his arm. Ten feet tall, that’s how.

Now, he observed her as though she was a beautiful stranger.

“What’re you thinking of having?” She was looking down at the menu, chewing on the corner of her lip in the way she always did when she was concentrating on something.

“Those phyllo pies sound amazing,” Quentin said. “You?”

“Something with lamb,” Mara said, still not looking up. “Can’t do Greek food and not have lamb.” Finally, she put her menu down and gave him her full attention.

Quentin instinctively smiled, but part of him wasn’t even there.

After their first successful dinner at Filomena, they were both relieved and maybe even a little over-exuberant because the evening had been a good one. By avoiding talk of their marriage and separation, they actually managed to have some semblance of a good time. And when they parted in front of the restaurant, Quentin kissed her on the cheek and felt Mara lean into it. For a few moments, he considered making the kiss something more, maybe even inviting Mara back to the house. She was his wife, after all, and he hadn’t gotten any in months. But the thought that the same might not be true of her held him back.

The next day they talked again—still pleasant. So they planned, tonight, to go to the restaurant owned and operated by a celebrity chef they had watched together years earlier on a television cooking reality show. Taking baby steps, they might somehow, soon, get to a place where they could talk about the big pink elephant in the room. Without trying to use it to trample each other to death.

“So how’s work been?” he asked. “We didn’t talk about that Monday.”

“The same. Lots of travel. But this year, thankfully, I might get to go someplace more exciting than Chicago or L.A.”

Mara was a corporate event planner. When they first met, when Quentin was in law school, she was already well established in her career, putting together high-end events for Washington DC’s movers and shakers. She had even done a few events for the firm after they were married, but now, for obvious reasons, someone else in her company handled the Fox Cheatham account.

Quentin couldn’t say that the frequent trips she had to take were responsible for the cracks in their marriage, but they sure hadn’t helped. After having a knock-down, drag-out fight with your spouse, it was generally better if they were around so the apologies could be made, and the make-up sex could be had. Instead, many of their fights ended with Mara having to get on a plane the next day, widening the distance between them, both literally and figuratively.

“So where to this year?”

“I might get to go to the UAE.”

“Wow.”

“Yeah. Really excited about that one.”

“Going alone?” Quentin asked.

Mara’s face fell. “It’s for work, Quentin. So, yes, I’m going alone.”

“And if it weren’t for work?”

Mara leaned back, folding her arms. “There’s a question buried in there.”

“Does it sound buried? I thought I was being very direct.”

“So you want to know if I’m seeing anyone.”

“I do want to know that, yes.”

“Quentin …”

“We’re not in court, Mara. You don’t have to worry about saying anything self-incriminating. This is just me, just you. Talking.”

“And we were doing so well,” she said, almost to herself.

She picked up her glass of water and took a slow sip.

Then their waiter arrived and for a few minutes, they both busied themselves with asking questions about the menu, placing their orders and getting a wine recommendation. When they were alone again, the mood was different— taut and more than a little tense.

“You can ask me the same if you like,” Quentin offered.

“I already know the answer,” Mara said, squeezing her lips together in a tight purse.

“You do? How?”

“Because I know you. You wouldn’t bring up seeing other people unless you were certain you had the moral high-ground. You haven’t been seeing anyone, so you can’t waste the opportunity to show how comparatively … dirty my hands are.”

Mara looked up at him, and her eyes had hardened into the look that he became familiar with as their marriage began to fall apart.

“That’s your thing—being the good guy compared to everyone else. Your whole life is defined by that. Even with your family.” She shook her head. “You’re the ‘good son’, and Darius is the fuck-up, isn’t that how it works? You’re so used to being in relationships where the other party is cooperative about playing that role that you can’t stand it that I won’t fall in line.”

“That’s interesting psychoanalysis, Mara. But you haven’t answered the question.”

“Off the record, counselor?” she asked sarcastically.

“Yeah. Off the record.”

“I am seeing someone. Yes. There. Are you happy now? Did that adequately feed your righteous indignation?”

Quentin leaned in closer. “Did you honestly expect me to not want to know if my wife has been fucking someone else?” he asked.

Mara looked down at her lap. “Why are you doing this?”

“Doing what?”

“Starting this fight with me. Quentin, by the time I left, you wanted out of our marriage so badly, I could practically hear you hyperventilating every minute we were together. But you had to cast me as the villain to make yourself feel good about it.”

“That’s bullshit.”

“Is it? You need to feel like you’re justified to want out, but you also want me to be the one to pull the trigger. So after we got along so well a couple nights ago, I guess I should have seen this coming—you orchestrating this argument to …”

And for a moment, she stared at him and Quentin was shocked to see that there were tears in her eyes.

“You fell out of love with me, Quentin. I could almost feel when it happened. And then after that, you set about making sure I fell out of love with you … you just …” She stopped and took another sip of water. “Look, we’ve already been separated for nine months. In three more, we can get divorced without there being any admission of fault on either side. I suggest we agree to make that the plan.”

“You want a divorce.”

“Yes,” Mara said.

But what was curious about it was that she didn’t look resolved; she almost looked … defeated. Tired, even. For a fleeting moment, Quentin wondered whether any of what she said was true, that maybe he wanted out before she did, that he might have fallen out of love with her first.

“But what you said on the phone? That meant something to me. I want that,” Mara continued. “For us to not hate each other when all is said and done. So, yes, Quentin. You can have your divorce.”

“I don’t recall asking for …”

His wife looked him directly in the eyes and offered a small, sad laugh. “Oh yes you did,” she said. “Maybe not in words, but yes. You did.”

~~~

Read more about Quentin and Mara in the full-length novel, ‘Acceptable Losses’, coming this winter.

The Book Where Nothing Happens

UPDATE: AVAILABLE NOW ON AMAZON!

I like books where nothing happens.

I know, I can feel you rolling your eyes and thinking, “What on earth is she on about now? And where is that Acosta book she’s been promising forever?” But stay with me … Though Ivy's LeagueI am as much  a fan of books where there’s lots of action and surprises I especially love books (and movies) where there is the slow evolution of characters as they realize something about themselves, their lives and their relationships. That happens sometimes in the middle of a crisis, but sometimes it happens in slow stages, as they’re going about living their daily lives. Something small may happen to trigger big changes.

So recently, after reading a few books like that, I decided to write one. And I have to give credit where it’s due–this book happened because of women I know, because of experiences in my own life and in no small part because I read a book called. ‘The Reeducation of Aria Jackson’ by Angelia Vernon Menchan, and another called ‘A Natural Woman’ by Lori Johnson, and also because of something Aja Graves said in passing which she now tells me she has no recollection of.

I mention these inspirations because it’s not often that you know from whence you’re stealing your ideas as a writer, so when on the odd occasion I have that level of self-awareness, I like to holler it out. Anyways, ‘Ivy’s League’ is a mashup of ideas from all those people. It’s a book about a woman not unlike most of the women I know, and about a man, not unlike some of the men I know. And its about their slow coming together. Other than that, not much of anything happens. But I had fun writing it, and hope you’ll have fun reading it.

‘Ivy’s League’ will be on Amazon on Monday, September 21st and on Barnes & Noble shortly thereafter.

And yes, Miri Acosta and her education are still on the way. Soon.


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 that of everyone around them, hell-bent on confirming their worst fear: that the bond they’re beginning to build can’t possibly last.


From Ivy’s League:

“What’s going on, girl? You all alone finally?” Ryann answered her phone without greeting.

“Yup. Gavin and Jaden just left. Now I’m bored.”

“Call up your little Toolbelt Stud and tell him to come over,” Ryann laughed. “You don’t know when you might get another chance, since Gavin is only a seasonal father.”

“I’m sorry I mentioned him to you at all,” Ivy said, though she had been thinking along the same lines herself.

“Why? First time in months I heard you talk about a man!”

“Because now you’re going to pressure me to do something you know I’m not comfortable doing.”

“Look, the worst has already happened,” Ryann argued. “Your goofy ass fell out and showed your literal ass, so it can only get better from here.”

Ivy laughed and idly reached down, yanking up the leg of her sweats and running her fingertips over the scrape on her knee. “So you think I should just call him and … what? Ask him out on a date?”

“Why not? It’s the twenty-first century, Ivy. Women who wait around for a man to make the first move wind up … waiting around.”

“I don’t know,” Ivy said. “What if he has a girlfriend?”

“Then hopefully he’ll say so from jump and you won’t almost get cut up by some pissed-off chick from Southeast showing up in your driveway at two in the morning looking for her man.”

“You scare me sometimes, you know that? That sounded way too detailed to be made up on the spur of the moment.”

“Who said it was made up? I didn’t ever tell you about …. Oh crap. I have to go, girl. I see one of my targets walking through the lobby. Let me go see if I can talk to him. He should be good for at least two hundred grand for the Foundation.”

“Okay, I’ll call you later.”

“Don’t,” Ryann said. “Don’t call me until and unless you’ve called that man first. And you better have a good story to tell too, or I’ll hang up on you.” And then she did just that.

Ivy walked through kitchen, picking up the remains of her and Jaden’s early breakfast, dumping leftover food in the trash and the dishes in the sink. Looking around her, she admired her kitchen.

Large and sunny, the surfaces were all white granite, the cabinets, dark oak. She had paid a pretty penny to have it renovated when she moved in, proud of the accomplishment of buying her first home, and filled with a bursting sense of endless possibilities. She would entertain; friends would sit around the center island with long-stemmed glasses filled with the best chardonnay. She would serve goat cheese and Scottish smoked salmon on rosemary and basil crostini, and they would all have clever conversation about the Obama Administration.

But once she and Jaden had moved in, Ivy grew weary of the constant din of construction, and more than that, wary of the numbers being quoted to her by unscrupulous contractors for whom a single woman of means was like blood in the water to man-eating sharks.

She had gotten as far as the kitchen but still had the basement to go, and there was a stubborn recurring clog in her guest bathroom that made her have to steer overnight guests to her master bath instead. It hadn’t been a huge problem thus far because overnight guests were rare. Only her mother, her Aunt Gwen, and Ryann when she had too many glasses of pinot, ever needed to spend the night. One day, though, Ivy would have to get that bathroom fixed.

One day. Or ….

Ivy paused, leaning over her sink and biting into her lower lip.

It was what Ryann would call a “bitch-move”—calling Eli up and telling him she needed some work on her house just so she could see him again. But the fact of the matter was, she did need some work done on her house and the chance of him actually cheating her on the price was slim-to-none since they kind of knew each other. And he probably went to Woodmore Church and was in the Men’s Auxiliary or something. Guys like that didn’t cheat single mothers out of their hard-earned money did they?

Finding her purse, Ivy fished out the business card he’d handed her just before they parted. The card was simple and tasteful, with none of those superlatives (fast, excellent service!) that made her instantly suspicious. Instead it consisted of just six words, and a phone number in a simple, unadorned script.

Thomason Home Improvements

Repairs. Remodels. Restoration.

The card stock was expensive and dense though, so Eli Thomason clearly recognized that the simplicity of the words had to be offset by a subtle nod to quality of workmanship. She smiled, liking him more by the second.

At the school, even though she had a mission to get Jaden’s birthday stuff down to the Café and get to work, she had been almost excruciatingly aware of him walking just behind her, except for when he held the doors open for her—or standing just over her shoulder. It was ridiculous, but he just felt … solid. A strong reassuring presence that a woman could lean into, bury her face into his chest and just … cry.

Ivy shook her head. What a ridiculous thought! Why would she need to cry?

Her life was good. People probably envied her. She had a four-bedroom house in one of the best neighborhoods in the Washington DC suburbs, where the value of real estate only ever increased; her son was handsome and healthy and well taken care of; she had friends (a few anyway) and a career that gave her the chance to influence causes she cared deeply about. And on her best days, she felt pretty, didn’t carry an extra ounce of weight, was in good health and fairly young. Why on earth would she need to cry?

Shoving the question out of her mind, and pushing even further down the possible answers to the question, Ivy reached for the phone. She hadn’t given Eli her number because he didn’t ask, so there was a good chance he might not answer. Hesitating, she dialed the number but did not hit the ‘send’ button.


Happy Reading!

N.

Blog Stop: Chicki Brown, author of ‘Till You Come Back to Me’

Till You Come Back to Me coverI became acquainted with Chicki Brown’s work when I read her novella, ‘You Make Me Feel Brand New and it was refreshing because it wasn’t about the perfectly-proportioned twentysomething woman meeting the perfectly-proportioned thirtysomething man and being swept off her feet. It was about a woman of a certain age meeting that thirtysomething man and sweeping him off his feet. How could you not love that?

And then I read A Woman’s Worth and knew that from then on, I would read everything of hers. I haven’t made it through them all just yet, but I am hooked by the Stafford Family, so I’m riding that out before I get to her backlist. So it’s my pleasure and honor to host her today, and get a sneak peek of her new release, ‘Till You Come Back To Me.

From ‘Till You Come Back to Me’:

When she arrived at the hospital, immediately she sensed a change in the atmosphere. Dr. Ijalana and Dr. Pategi were huddled together in front of the laptop and barely noticed her entrance.

“Good morning, Doctors.”

“Adanna, come and look at this!” Dr. Pategi said with more excitement in his voice than she’d ever heard. Rarely did the doctors consult with her on patient diagnoses. Her involvement focused on treatment, so she approached them expecting to see photographs of a particular medical procedure. Instead, text filled the screen. She leaned in to get a better look. The document was an e-mail from Doctors Without Borders. Their prayers and requests were finally being answered. The organization was sending a team of doctors to work at their small facility.

“This is incredible!” Adanna exclaimed knowing what this meant for their patients, many of who had been waiting for years for surgeries they could not afford. “When will they get here?”

“It says in the last paragraph that the doctors should be here the first week in May. They will evaluate all patients and decide which surgeries will be performed and when. We will assist them in the operating room. Before the team arrives, we need to review the patient waiting list and try to get them in for a final evaluation.”

“I can start doing that right now, Doctor.”

“I had the feeling you’d be excited about this. You are an excellent nurse, Adanna. We could not function without you.” He smiled, and the smooth ebony skin around his eyes crinkled. Dr. Pategi was one of the kindest people she had ever met, and Adanna considered it a privilege to work with him. As a husband and father of four, he sacrificed much of his personal time seeing to the needs of the sick, most of who couldn’t afford to pay the normal fees. He worked tirelessly to obtain funds from social and religious organizations to provide the care their patients needed.

“Thank you. Did they include background information on the surgeons who will be coming?”

He scrolled down the page and clicked on a link. The attachment opened. “Yes, there is a photo and a CV for each, if you would like to find out more about our visitors. Take your time. Everything is quiet right now.” Dr. Pategi stood, made the seat available to her, and left the room.

Adanna replaced him in front of the screen and casually browsed through the physician information. She stopped suddenly when a photo jumped out at her. The man she’d seen in her dream! The antithesis of African standards of male attractiveness, which generally included a wide nose, thick lips, and dark skin, this man had a fair complexion, a beard, and — she leaned into the screen to get a closer look at his professional photo — green eyes. Yet, she couldn’t rip her gaze from his image. There weren’t many men in her country who looked like him. A twinge of guilt stabbed her over admiring his intriguing face, and it wasn’t because of his fair complexion.

The issue of skin color had become an issue in Africa. Recently, a South African musician faced severe criticism over her decision to lighten her naturally dark skin, and subsequently a good number of people in her country had followed suit. The sale of skin lightening products was also a lucrative business in Nigeria, and the debate continued on the ethics of it all. Adanna heard it more often than not from her brother. Even though he had spent his teen years in England, Emeka was fiercely devoted to their tribal culture. He believed that the practice of bleaching one’s skin was tantamount to denying your heritage. This isn’t the same thing, she told herself while she stood mesmerized by the doctor’s high cheekbones and intense eyes. This man would be considered extremely handsome no matter what color skin he had.

She scolded herself for her mental wandering and scrolled down to read the résumé of Dr. Charles Stafford, which was impressive for such a young man. He had gone to medical school, done his residency at a major US hospital and eventually opened his own plastic surgery practice. Now he was giving up private practice to lend his gifts to the people of her nation.

And, in a couple of months, this fascinating man was arriving at her hospital.

Buy links

On Amazon (Kindle only for the first 90 days)

How to reach Chicki Brown:

Blog

Twitter

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Pinterest

Amazon Central Author Page

Goodreads 

Being Earnest

honesty-sincerity-integrityLast weekend, I went to a very interesting gathering of women to discuss themes that appear in my books, and other issues of concern . . .

I wanted to title this blog ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ as a play on Oscar Wilde’s great work of that name but then I realized that may mislead people into thinking I’d actually read it, when in fact I only ever watched the movie, which starred the wonderful Rupert Everett and incomparable Colin Firth, two of my favorite British actors.

Still, this is a blog about being earnest, in the sense of “showing depth and sincerity of feeling” but also about being authentic, which is a close cousin but not the same thing  as being earnest. Just this past weekend, I was fortunate enough to attend a gathering of women in Northern Virginia, having been invited by one of my readers (and now cyber-pal) to join a discussion about some of the themes in my books, and issues that modern and progressive women face in general. We sat around with wine and finger foods in an informal setting, talking about love, life, relationships and of course, those mysterious creatures, men. After the discussion, as I headed for home, I thought about the various strands of the conversation we had and realized that a topic I had been contemplating blogging about anyway – authenticity- was actually at the heart of our discussion.

Here’s how:

As we talked well into the evening, we gradually got to a central question which dominated the latter hour and a half of our discussion. The question was basically this: can women be our authentic selves in relationships with men and still have those relationships survive?

And as a corollary to that, can the progressive, independent women of today find fulfilling relationships with men while still being their authentic selves?

Well let me end the suspense: we did not find answers to those questions.

But what I heard, as the conversation unfolded organically, was that the women present  were in one of two ‘camps’. In the first camp which I’ll call the Purists, were the women who believe that the prospects of having a relationship survive our being our true selves are dim, either because men have bought into a feminine ideal that does not exist or because we as women help perpetuate an ideal that we cannot possibly live up to. Though their point of view sounds quite jaded, at the heart of their views, they still by and large seemed to yearn for authentic relationships with men, relationships that are unfettered by the need to pretend to be something that we aren’t, be that a certain physical type, or of a certain temperament, etc.  So in other words, these women want to achieve the “pure” romantic notion of relationships where you and your guy don’t just love each other, you get each other as well.

The second camp, I call the Realists. These were the women who seem to accept the whole “women are from Venus, men are from Mars” philosophy and believe that the only way to maintain relationships with men is with a certain degree of gamesmanship – like learning how to provide all those things the masculine ego needs to survive (praise, reinforcement and recognition) and making adjustments to find your personal fulfillment elsewhere because we understand and accept that the men in our lives will never fully get us though they may love us.

At the heart of those strands of thinking were different approaches to the question of being authentic. The Purists seemed to find something inauthentic about the Realists’ approach, and the Realists believed that the authenticity of the connection between women and their mates is not at all compromised by the need to make course adjustments just to keep the road to a long relationship primarily smooth and less fraught with conflict.

There was plenty of food for thought after this conversation, and as always, being in a place where I got to hear women sharing openly, frankly and earnestly about their needs, their wants, and their fears moved me and opened my mind. I don’t know if I will see these women again, but I know for sure that you will – as parts of them will appear in my work, and undoubtedly make it richer.

What do you think? Is it possible to be truly authentic in our relationships with men?

Happy Reading!

-Nia-

‘Secret’ Release Day!

Whew. It’s here! The release day for ‘Secret’. All the levers have been pulled and it will go live on Amazon sometime today. I spent the last several days agonizing because it’s so different from anything else I’ve written in that it’s not pure romance, not chick-lit and in some ways lacks a genre. Still I stayed true to my favorite theme of self-discovery through relationships, and hope you like it.

Happy Reading and Happy Holidays!

-Nia-

NaNoWriMo #Fail

I suppose there is a very, very slender chance that I will finish my book in the next two days. And it may even be something people would want to read. But I doubt it. So I’m going to throw in the towel right now and acknowledge my NaNoWriMo fail.  Truth is, I’ve never been great about writing under duress, particularly where a timeline is involved.

I was the kid who would wait until the very last evening before the essay was due and knock it out between 10 p.m. and midnight, but only because the alternative was to get a failing grade. But maybe I’m being hard on myself by considering this a failure. I have a good number of pages that I feel good about and will probably be ready to edit within a week or so, but the specter of November 30th has had an interesting effect on my psyche – my characters are not speaking to me, they have fallen completely silent over the past couple of days. I visit them in my mind, knock on their doors, ask if they’ll come out to play and for the moment, they have rebuffed every attempt. So I’ve decided to play a little hard to get, ignore them for a day or so and hope they’ll come around.

The characters I’ve been trying to lure out to play are from my new book, ‘Secret’, Trey and Shayla. They’re a complicated pair with difficult pasts, each of them insisting to themselves and to each other that they don’t want a relationship. But sometimes what we say we don’t want is precisely what we need. Here’s an appetizer from Secret (and hopefully not the last piece of writing I’ll do this month)

Happy Reading . . . and to my fellow writers, happy (sigh) writing.

-Nia-