Maybe…Love: Love in Translation by Kim Golden
When I first wrote about Laney in Maybe Baby, I had no idea that she would demand more stories. I never intended for Maybe Baby to become a series. I only knew I wanted to tell the story of a black woman from the States who–like me–happened to live in Scandinavia and who happened to fall in love. But, unlike me, Laney wasn’t in love with the man she was with. Laney wanted something more. She thought she wanted a baby. What she really wanted was to find the person who was meant to complete her. And this journey is the story I tell in Maybe Baby. How she meets and falls in love with Mads, who is also searching and feeling just as lost as Laney.
Over the course of three books (Maybe Baby, Maybe Tonight and Maybe Forever), I’ve charted their love story. Not everyone appreciates it. Some people are put off by the infidelity angle and it prevents them from seeing what is the heart of the story: two people searching for and finding love, just maybe not in the best of ways. Infidelity ends up figuring into a lot of my writing. Not because I condone it. It’s more that I am interested in what makes people cheat. And how they deal with the consequences of it.
Once I’d finished tweaking Maybe Baby, I received advice that it would be easier to sell if Laney were white or if I changed the setting from Scandinavia to somewhere more palatable for American tastes like Paris or London or even New York. But that wasn’t what I wanted. And really, when I began writing Maybe Baby, I wrote it more for me than anyone else. I didn’t want to read another story set in New York or London or Paris. I wanted to write about looking for love in Scandinavia–especially since I live here and know Stockholm, Sweden and Copenhagen, Denmark much better than I do Paris or New York. Someone even suggested I change Laney to a white woman because–“you’ll sell more books that way.” But I didn’t want to tell a random white woman’s story. And Laney came to me as a black woman, not a white woman. I wanted to tell her story—the story of a black woman living in Europe and trying to find that someone who would make her feel like she’d come home.
So…I won’t change the sort of characters I write about just to please people who don’t want to read about black women falling in love. And I won’t change the settings just because some people have no clue where Scandinavia is or think that the only thing capable of being set there is a murder mystery. I found love in Scandinavia…I found my guy who made me feel like I’d come home. And I think there are more love stories to come that have a connection with my Nordic home…a few more stories about Laney, her feisty cousin Eddy…maybe even Laney’s daughters once they’re old enough. And I think I’ll keep writing about black women in love.
At the end of the day…it’s what we all want—love.
If you’d like to read love stories outside of your comfort zones, check out the selection of books, including Maybe Baby, on the When Black Women Fall promo tour at http://whenblackwomenfall.com!
Black Women Finding & Falling in Love -Historically Speaking by Lena Hart
It’s not a great marvel that black women have always managed to find and fall in love, despite a moment in history that would prove otherwise—or the statistics today that would have us believe only a handful of us ever will.
I started my career writing contemporary romance. In fact, my first completed romance story was BECAUSE YOU LOVE ME, a modern romance set in Chicago about broken promises and second chances. But as a romance reader, I first fell in love with the genre through historical romances—though it wasn’t until late into my reader-life that I discovered the best-selling, award-winning pioneer of African American historical romance, Ms. Beverly Jenkins.
Growing up, I knew it was no secret that black men and women fell in love all the time. I had seen it in enough contemporary romances and movies to know this. But there was something unique about seeing that kind of love written in a historical setting. For black women, our history was usually whittled down to pain, violence, and heartache. But finally, I was exposed to a history where we were so much more than the pains of our past.
So, full of inspiration and an innate love for history, I set out to write my first historical romance. In June 2014, I released A SWEET SURRENDER, in the anthology For Love & Liberty, about an Afro-Native American healer who falls in love with a wounded British soldier during the Revolutionary War. The anthology also featured BE NOT AFRAID by Alyssa Cole about an African woman who joins the British army in order to gain her freedom from slavery, yet finds both love and freedom along the way.
In June 2015, I again collaborated with Alyssa and two other very talented authors to celebrate 150 years of emancipation and freedom. In The Brightest Day, we commemorate Juneteenth—a time that celebrates the emancipation of all slaves in America—and the wonderful Ms. Beverly Jenkins provides a foreword explaining the inception and importance of the 150-year-old holiday.
For the anthology, we each wrote a story over four different eras of American history (post-slavery) that featured a strong black woman. In my novella, Amazing Grace, my heroine Gracie is torn between fulfilling her promise or following her heart; in Drifting to You by Kianna Alexander, Rosie finds love and healing in the arms of her sexy suitor; in A Sweet Way to Freedom by Piper Huguley, Missy teaches her former lover—and the father of her unborn child—just what it means to love and be loved; and in Let It Shine by Alyssa Cole, Sofie sets out to make a difference and find love and redemption along the way.
In each story, we wanted to celebrate the fact that despite the pain and suffering of our past, black women have a history rich with love, light, and hope. Long before slavery—and even after it—black women were finding and falling in love wherever and whenever it came. That is something that should be shared, experienced, and celebrated always. As a writer, I’m so honored I get to do that alongside so many talented authors.♥
To see more of Lena’s work along with other diverse romances check out the When Black Women Fall promo tour at http://whenblackwomenfall.com.
Lena Hart is a multi-published author of sensual to steamy contemporary and historical romances. Her stories are known to include incredible love and unforgettable passion with a flare of suspense and mystery. When Lena is not busy writing, she’s reading, researching, or conferring with her muse. To learn more about her work, visit LenaHartSite.com.
The Education of a Black Heroine by Piper Huguley
When The Preacher’s Promise was first put forward to the public in the quarterfinal phase of the final Amazon Breakthrough Contest, some people began to question the history of my story in their reviews. They had never known of the possibility of an educated Black woman who traveled on her own to the southern states to teach. But I knew that this ignorance developed out of the lies that history tells us. We hear a lot about the brave white Christians who went to the southern states right after the Civil War, but we hear nothing of the Black people who went to help. This is one of the reasons why I wrote The Preacher’s Promise, so that the historical lie of omission could be exposed. My heroine, Amanda Stewart, was based on the real-life exploits of two Black women, Mary Patterson and Mary Peake.
Mary Jane Patterson is the first black woman who is credited with having earned a B.A. degree from Oberlin College, one of a handful of schools before the Civil War who were willing to give Black people a chance at higher education. She graduated from Oberlin in 1862. A historian of Oberlin College, Robert Fletcher, says that she taught school in Philadelphia, and later became a principal of a preparatory high school for Black students in Washington.
My heroine, Amanda, arrives in Milford, Georgia after the Civil War, just after her graduation in 1866 from Oberlin. Some real-life African American teachers were willing to take their lives and liberty into their own hands to teach the still enslaved populations how to read and write before the war ended. One of these brave people was Mary Peake.
Born of a free mother and an Englishman, Peake started a school in her own home state of Virginia on the grounds of what is now Hampton University. She started the school in 1861 after her own home had been burned by Confederate forces. Finding herself displaced, she taught the enslaved people who had gathered at Fort Monroe. She had taught out of her home for years and now brought those skills to this new endeavor with purpose. The population of the school went from six to fifty within a matter of days. Remarkably, Peake was also working as a married woman, having married Thomas Peake, one of the formerly enslaved.
Unfortunately, the next year, Peake caught tuberculosis and died. Her endeavor may not have lasted long, but Peake’s school planted the seed of an idea that spread and motivated many others to leave the comfort of their lives and homes to help the enslaved. So the provenance for an Amanda Stewart is certainly there. And the American Missionary Society, who built up several schools for the enslaved in the South, documented many more men and women of color who came south to each the recently enslaved. Novels are written about the uncommon and the exceptional. We may not know these Marys by name, but they were certainly exceptional. Their accomplishments should be remembered, and my Amanda Stewart is my way of commemorating these women who paved the way for many.
To experience Amanda’s story yourself, pick your copy of “The Preacher’s Promise” today! You can find this and other romance novels featuring black heroines on the When Black Women Fall promo tour at http://whenblackwomenfall.com.
DIY Blog Tour by Ines Johnson
If You Publish It, They Will Come
That may have been true ten, five years ago in indie publishing. It is no longer the case today. Readers have a lot of authors and books to choose from. They don’t know you, so you have to do something to get their attention.
Okay, but what something? After visiting Google, I decided to do my own blog tour. I went to listservs and chat rooms for authors and asked questions. Established authors said a blog tour was a waste of time. But new and indie authors said to go for it. I had nothing to lose, and no money to spend, so I did it myself. Here’s how I did it.
- Build a MEDIA KIT
Honestly, this wasn’t the first thing I did. I realized I needed it as responses started rolling in with bloggers requesting the same materials over and again. But I recommend it be the first thing you do.
A media kit is everything a blogger could possibly want or need in order to host you on their webpage. Include in your Media Kit the following:
Your book blurb. I included different lengths of my blurb, including the full blurb that’s up on Amazon. A shorter three sentence blurb. And a one sentence blurb. My debut book was erotic romance, so I also had to be sure and include a PG version of my blurb for bloggers who also showcased YA books.
Book excerpts. Choose one to two scenes that you feel would get readers engaged in your story. I recommend the excerpt should start somewhere in the middle of the scene and end before the scene is over at a high point of tension. If you choose well, this tactic would naturally lead a reader to push the ‘buy now’ link so they can find out what happens next. Again, make sure you have a PG excerpt for bloggers who showcase YA books.
Guest Posts. I wrote three guests posts for my tour. I found that bloggers liked craft pieces, writing tips, and social commentary. So, I wrote one of each. I also found that some bloggers wanted you to answer their list of questions instead of using your posts. I complied, and then saved each question and answer. I included these Q&A’s in my media kit and made them available to all subsequent bloggers.
Author biography. Be sure to include the bio you’ve written for yourself and posted on your website. I found that some bloggers preferred a one sentence bio, called a tagline. So, I paired my long bio down and included two options in my kit.
Links. Be sure to include your store purchase links, your website url, and all social media links and handles. In my ebook, I have fancy graphic links. I assumed the bloggers would do something graphical with my link, but few did. Instead they just left the entire URL up under my name. I didn’t like that, but I had to realize that many of these bloggers weren’t graphic artists or any more tech savvy than your average person. Moving forward, I’ll need to think of a better way to list these links.
Images. Attach images separately, as well as in the body of the kit. If you have a lot of images, make them available upon request.
That was a lot of information, but I suggest you get started on that before contacting bloggers. Many get back to you straight away and begin making requests.
- Find BLOGGERS
Once your media kit is assembled, you need to start finding blogs to host your amazing information.
I began my search at the Book Blogger Directory: https://bookbloggerdirectory.wordpress.com/
I made certain to check for bloggers who were in my genre.
I also checked their sites to see when their last activity happened. You don’t want to spend time querying a blogger whose last post was in 2013.
- Make CONTACT
Once I had my list of vetted bloggers in my genre, I began to contact them. Be aware that some of these bloggers have handy Google Docs. They’d prefer you use these instead of emailing them directly.
For those I emailed directly, I made a form email, but I sent each blogger an individual email with their name in the salutation. I also tailored the form email to each blogger where possible. For example, if I saw that a blogger was only interested in author interviews, I didn’t mention that I had blog posts and excerpts because I knew they wouldn’t be interested in those items.
Here’s an example of the basic form email that I sent out:
Dear [Book Blogger],
I write erotic romance, paranormal romance, and fairytale retellings under the pen name, Ines Johnson. My newest release, Pumpkin: a Cindermama story, which is a fairytale retelling of the Cinderella story will hit the print and virtual shelves on March 17th.
I’ve planned a book tour throughout the month of March to create some buzz and garner a bigger audience for my book. I’d love to make a stop at your site. I’m happy to do a Q&A, a blog posting, submit my book for your review, or any combination of the three. I’ve prepared three posts for the occasion. If you feel that one of the topics might interest your readers, I would be happy to make it available to you any day during the month of March and April. Attached you’ll find my Media Kit for your convenience.
- Keep RECORDS
It looks bad to contact the same person over and again. Or to forget that you agreed to give this blogger that post on this day. I kept a spreadsheet in Google Docs so that I had access to it at all times.
On the list I listed the blog title, the blog URL, the contact person’s name and email address. In other columns, I placed what each blog looked for from guest bloggers, when I contacted them, if they responded, if they said yes and what they wanted, when the post would be live, and when they needed the information by. You should also note if they want exclusive content, and if they want you to provide them a giveaway.
* a note about giveaways: try where possible to offer your book as a giveaway. I got my highest sales on the days I offered my book as a free giveaway. I didn’t want to offer a gift card, remember I was broke by this time.
- Be SOCIAL
As the blog tour began, I made a fancy banner announcing the tour for my webpage. I linked to each blog that hosted me.
On the day of each tour stop, I tweeted and posted each blog. And I visited each site to try and interact with any commenters and responded where appropriate.
- Send THANK YOU NOTES
But the most important thing I did, was mind my manners. After each post I wrote a personalized thank you note to each blogger. I told them how they affected my sales rank that day. Each one invited me back!
I had phenomenal success with my tour! I was on thirty blogs over the course of my launch week. As soon as those posts went live, my debut novel was launched into the Top 100 where it’s stayed for a week after my launch. I could see the effects in real time. When a tour stop went live, an hour or so later, I’d see sales. I didn’t see much of a blip on social media (ie, my newsletter or Facebook Likes). My twitter followers did see some of an uptick, but mostly from the bloggers themselves as they tweeted about the post.
I repeated these steps fro the When Black Women Fall promo tour. This time I had over 50 bloggers sign up for the tour, many were repeat bloggers who I built a relationship with over the year I’ve been published. To see the other authors on the tour, please visit our site at http://whenblackwomenfall.com!
The Unwashed Cover by L Penelope
I recently read this story about how bestselling middle-grade author Rick Riordan (of Percy Jackson fame) had no recourse when several of his international publishers whitewashed the covers of his books and portrayed a black character as white. He complained but even for an author of his stature and sales, the correction took far too long.
A day or two later an author in a Facebook group lamented that her cover was whitewashed by her small press. This is in no ways new and it never stops being infuriating.
I turned on the TV yesterday and caught a clip of some movie where Blaire Underwood was being beaten by the police for literally no reason. The movie was set in the 1950s. My husband and I just looked at one another — no words needed to be said. It seems we’re still fighting the same battles over and over.
I’ve been told that I was very “courageous” for putting black faces on the covers of my books. This made me indescribably sad. Will white readers feel like my books aren’t “for them” because they don’t feature people who look like them on the covers? Have I ever felt like a book wasn’t for me because of the lack of diversity on the cover? That I wouldn’t be able to relate or enjoy it? Of course not. And my philosophy is to start as you mean to go forward. As an artist (and a control freak) I want to create and through my work begin reshaping the world in the way I want it to be.
I made decisions regarding my covers that many believe will impact sales for a variety of reasons, but mostly because I just like seeing black people on my covers. And having my covers represent the characters in my books. To quote a Twitter poster “the melanin is winning.” And since I self publish, I can do whatever I want. I don’t have to shout into the void and not be heard like Riordan or Ursula LeGuin or the many other authors whose books have been whitewashed over the years and continue to be so.
One day representing my reality the way I live and perceive it will stop being “courageous” and just be normal. Until then, I’ll put whoever I want on my covers and be grateful I have the freedom to do so.
To turn the cover and read a great love story, check out L. Penelope’s “Angelborn” on the When Black Women Fall promo tour at http://whenblackwomenfall.com.
Meet Thalya by Laverne Thompson
Meet Thalya the heroine.
My name is Thalya.
I was born at the birthplace of time. I have no clear memory of my beginning only that I was and I am. I am a soulless one. My kind have no soul thus feel no emotion. Not hate not love nor even heat or cold. But we do have a driving need to feel.
I seek above all else this compulsion to fill that void deep inside where a soul should reside with emotion. For when I do, for a brief moment, I can feel what another does. I travel the earth searching for depression, my emotion of choice. With but a kiss I drain depression from unsuspecting humans. But I do not kill them or harm them in any way. There is no need.
However, some soulless choose to feed off other types of energies, such as fear, even death and in other less benign ways. They kill those they feed from. I am not one such. But there are humans who are aware of our existence and they hunt us…all of my kind. Not differentiating from those who kill and those who don’t. And they know how to destroy us.
So while I sate my blinding hunger it is never quite satisfied…until Samuel. The leader of those who hunt my kind. For the first time in my consciousness I feel when I am with him, my own emotions not just stolen from him. So I cannot stay away. Even when it means his death or my own.
To read Thalya’s and the other stories visit the When Black Women Fall site at http://whenblackwomenfall.com.
The Unluckiest Demographic in Love by Twyla Turner
The educated/nerdy/classy/fashionable/chic/Chubby Black chick has to be one of the most overlooked demographics of women in the country, in regards to L-O-V-E. Speaking from personal experience and seeing the world with my own eyes, we get the short end of the stick more often than not.
Most of us aren’t interested in someone that is quote unquote “hood”, but every time I look up, I got some dude with a full gold grill on his ten-speed shouting out, “Hey Girl?! Hey! Can I get yo number?” More than likely, they see a woman that can take care of them, domestically and financially. A “mothering” type woman that can probably throw down in the kitchen.
Or we get the hick or wannabe “hood” white guys that like thick black girls. Unfortunately, we’re still too classy for that life. I want to be taken to the museum, not the Monster Truck show. I’ve dated one, trust me I know. Nothing like going to a NASCAR event and watch a pickup truck filled with white dudes, flying a Confederate flag. But hey, I was there for the free Goo Goo Dolls concert.
And let’s not forget the old perverted men of ALL races. Yep, we get the horny old lechers that still want someone young but no longer care what people think of the candy on their arm like their young counterparts do. Too bad I’m not into old balls, either.
We’re not necessarily picky people. But can we at least get someone with all of their teeth, not showing their drawers, and isn’t carrying their AARP card? Many of the black men that are similar to us, are only looking outside their race to date. And we all know that the majority of white guys out there are looking for someone slender. And even if they say they like a woman with meat on their bones, they’re talking big boobs and booty with skinny everything else. And that doesn’t even include their fear of dating someone black. Heaven forbid!
To the well-rounded men, we’re placed solidly in the “friend’s zone”. Most of them love and absolutely adore us. They think we’re hilarious. They ask us to help them dress to get the “hot chick”. They come to us for dating advice. Some of them even have sex with us (which ends up grudgingly being the best they’ve ever had), but still can’t see walking with us on their arm in the light of day.
But what these men aren’t understanding is that our demographic is an untapped goldmine of sweet, intelligent, loving, fun and dare I say…sexy, group of women. Many of us just as satisfying, if not more so, than any other woman. Open those pretty eyes, guys! We’re here and we’re amazing!!!
Which is the main reason why I decided to brand my books as Novels with Curves. In the past, I couldn’t find a romance novel with a character that looked anything like me, so I took matters into my own hands. Why can’t the curvy, Black girl get the hot guy? So that’s what I mainly write… Adorably plump and sexy black heroines that snag the hot hero. My latest series Chasing Day, Daylen Daniels, the shy cellist meets Chase McCoy, the popular quarterback. They become unlikely best friends and soon find they have an undeniable attraction that leads to a tumultuous romance that spans 30 years.
All my novels are for the underdog. To give her a voice. If we can’t find ourselves on TV or on the big screen, surely we can at least find characters like us in the most intimate of entertainment…books.
To find more characters like Daylen from Twyla Turner’s “Chasing Day,” visit the When Black Women Fall promo tour at http://whenblackwomenfall.com!