Diversity in Romance #change #readingnewauthors

Greetings Readers

Welcome to spring. It’s officially the end of the first quarter of the year — where does the time go? Too many books and not enough time. Speaking of books, that’s what I want to talk about today, diverse books.

First, before I get started this is not a post on a soapbox, just a post about personal change. Over the last four years I’ve started joining in on the Goodreads Reading Challenge. I say how many books I’ll read and then through the course of 12 months I record via Goodreads what I read and what I didn’t.  One thing I noticed, I was reading the same authors. Now, don’t get me wrong, once I find an author I’ll mine their backlist or buy whatever they put out. But I realized most of the books I was picking up were by white authors.  Is this bad? I don’t necessarily think so, but in today’s climate, political and social I kept experiencing the same messages:

“Be the change you wish to see in the word.” – Gandhi

“I’m starting with the man in the mirror. I’m asking him to change his ways. No message could’ve been any clearer. If you want to make the world a better place take a look at yourself and make a change.” – Michael Jackson

Those words, they mean a lot and they come from a place of purity. That being said, one of my personal reading goals for 2018 is to read more books by authors of color. So, far I’m batting about 50/50 and I’ll admit it’s changing how I view other books. I’m looking for diversity in my stories now, looking for the melting pot we live in. I’m trying to be mindful of how I plot my own stories and educating myself in the process.

But back to the books, I’ve found some fun gems and new author’s to read.

Alyssa Cole’s A Princess in Theory about a STEM heroine who falls for a Prince.

Mia Sosa’s Pretending He’s Mine with super hunky, sexy Julian a Hollywood agent and the best friend’s little sister trope. Too bad little sister Ashley is harboring a serious crush.

Alisha Rai’s last book in her Forbidden Hearts series, Hurts to Love You. It’s like diverse Dynasty and I ate it up.

Books on my radar:

  • Vanessa Riley’s first book in the Blackamoor Brides series, The Bittersweet Bride
  • Courtney Milan’s upcoming release, After The Wedding.
  • Hold Me by Courtney Milan
  • The Lady Sherlock Series by Sherry Thomas
  • FIT series by Rebekah Witherspoon
  • The Lawyer’s Luck by Piper Huguley

Now that I’ve regaled you with my list. What’s on your TBR? Any diverse authors or stories I need to check out?

 

 

 

 

About Landra Graf

Landra Graf consumes at least one book a day and has always been a sucker for stories where true love conquers all. She believes in the power of the written word, and the joy such words can bring. In between spending time with her family and having book adventures, she writes romance with the goal of giving everyone, fictional or not, their own happily ever after.

A Month for Beheadings

February is the month we celebrate Love. Isn’t it funny that Saint Valentine [the first and the second] were both beheaded? So, I did a little digging to find out more…why do we celebrate love and couples and this bond between two people on a day where we also remember the life of people who were beheaded for doing what was right? [so much more on that in a minute, btw!] [Also, excuse the history lesson. I don’t mean to bore you.]

And I read this, “Today is the feast day of St. Valentine.  Did you know St. Valentine was a real person?  Well, actually there are at least 2 St. Valentines in the ancient martyrology of the Catholic church.  While very little is known about Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Terni, we do know that Pope Gelasius declared February 14th his feast day in 496.  He is the patron saint of happy marriages, engaged couples and young people….

It is believed that Valentine was a priest arrested by the Emperor Claudius for marrying Christian couples secretly during a time of persecution in the Church.  Legend has it that while he was imprisoned and waiting for his martyrdom, he sent letters to his fellow Christians signing them, ‘From Your Valentine.'”

Okay. I get it now. It makes me think of this odd world we live in where people are persecuted every day. Through history, since the beginning of time, we have needed a HERO. Someone who would break the rules for justice, for belief. I think, as romance novelists, we see those stories. We find hope in the memory of the people who fight–hero or heroine. Already, I’m thinking of people from the 6th century who wanted to get married but weren’t allowed! LOL 😀 There’s a story there.

I kept reading….and found so much more!

During the Medieval Age, a common belief in England and France was that birds began to pair on Feb.14, “half-way through the second month of the year.” Chaucer wrote in his “Parliament of Foules” (in Old English): “For this was on Seynt Valentyne’s day, When every foul cometh ther to choose his mate.” For this reason, the day was dedicated to “lovers” and prompted the sending of letters, gifts, or other signs of affection.

Another literary example of St. Valentine’s Day remembrances is found in Dame Elizabeth Brews “Paston Letters” (1477), where she writes to the suitor, John Paston, of her daughter, Margery: “And, cousin mine, upon Monday is St. Valentine’s day and every bird chooseth himself a mate, and if it like you to come on Thursday night, and make provision that you may abide till then, I trust to God that ye shall speak to my husband and I shall pray that we may bring the matter to a conclusion.” In turn, Margery wrote to John: “Unto my right well beloved Valentine John Paston, Squyer, be this bill delivered. Right reverend and worshipful and my right well beloved Valentine, I recommend me unto you, full heartily desiring to hear of your welfare, which I beseech Almighty God long for to preserve until His pleasure and your heart’s desire.”

Such passionate writing for a woman of those times… or is it? The idea that passions are greater now because we are freer now, seems to be a myth, yes? I love hearing stories from other centuries about love and the call to become one with another soul.

It makes me smile to know that humanity is ingrained with the need for a soulmate and meant to share life with a person. Centuries have gone by and more centuries will pass, and romance and love and the pain and conflict that comes with it, will thrive…it will make stories worth reading.

Aren’t you so excited?!

Now, I must go document another wonderful, powerful story of Love.

Have a great week!

About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

Get Caught Up in the Fifties #MFVB

It’s been two years since I wrote the post about the resources I used to write my trilogy of novellas set in Las Vegas, 1958. Yesterday, the first book debuted and I can’t tell you how much I love these stories.

1958 Las Vegas. She can ruin his career. He can save her freedom. What’s a little blackmail between strangers?

Layla Rosas has been burned too many times—by her cheating ex, her narcissist mother, and now her father who’ll put her in an asylum, for good this time, if she can’t settle down and be a good girl. She needs a quality boyfriend—now—to convince her dad she’s back on the straight and narrow.

Jace Russell is good at his job: keeping the wealthy elite who visit his casino safe and happy. When a photographer snaps career-ending shots of a client, it’s Jace’s duty to do whatever it takes to stop those photos from hitting the press.

Layla didn’t intend to take compromising shots, but that doesn’t mean she won’t use them. When Jace realizes a few fake dates are all she wants in exchange for the negatives, he’s all in—with the added agenda of getting the crazy but beautiful woman between his sheets. But Layla refuses to gamble her heart on the toe-curling kisses of a fake boyfriend. It’s just a few dates. How hard can it be?

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

iBooks | Google Play | Kobo

You can find the first chapter on my website, here.

Fashion plays a big role in my stories because women looked a lot different back then they do now. I can assure you, no one went to the department store in their PJs. For one thing, they had bullet bras, which made the breasts appear to be rather… cone shaped. Think Madonna, but less extreme. Then there were the capris, the pencil skirts, the sweater sets, and the side-button jeans. You can learn all about these staples from the fifties here.

(Fun fact: in edits, my wonderful editor asked me about side-buttons jeans–had I meant to make them jeans? I sent her a link to these retro jeans you can buy from Freddies of Pinewood in the UK. Clothes then were just so much fun!)

And then, there was the lingerie. In the first scene, my heroine’s horrible mother comes downstairs, hair in a bouffant, dressed in an ankle-length negligee and a robe with a full circle skirt. The next day, Mom comes out in a sinfully scant bikini. Which probably looked more like this one from ModCloth than the barely-there bikinis of today.

Can you tell I absolutely reveled living in this world? I hope you’ll check it out and you’ll enjoy visiting as much as I did.

About Lori Sizemore

Lover of nail polish, pens, her Kindle, and fresh coffee. She likes romance filled with messy, real characters and lots of snarky banter. Reading was (and still is!) her BFF; when she discovered writing she fell in love. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

Want a Free Holiday Book? #freebiefriday #fridayreads

Hi, all! Jennifer here.

My fellow Entangled Bliss author, Barbara White Daille has a new release coming out next month!

She has graciously given me TWO ebook ARCs to giveaway! How special am I?

Here’s a little about the book

 

One Week to Win Her Boss

 

Single mom Amber Barnett loves family, kids, Christmas…and unfortunately, her boss, confirmed bachelor Michael DeFranco. It’s a crush she really needs to get over. Except, when she’s temporarily forced from her apartment, her only option is to stay at Michael’s private ski lodge, where she’s the housekeeper. No problem. Her handsome boss rarely visits Snowflake Valley unexpectedly, plus he’s spending the holidays with his family. Or so she thinks…

 A stormy Christmas Eve reunion leaves Michael seeking the solitude of his lodge, where he finds Amber in residence—and in trouble. Attempting to save her from her matchmaking family, he announces they’re a couple. His good deed backfires when they’re instantly included in each and every holiday event in town. So much for solitude. 

 Only the more time he spends with the beautiful, cheery brunette, the more he yearns to make things real between them. But he and Amber want different things, and Michael could never be the family man she’s looking for. 

Find the book:

Interested in reading?

Sign up HERE!

 Winner’s will be chosen by November 9, 2017 11:59PM EST

Good luck!

About Jennifer Shirk

Jennifer Shirk is a USA Today bestselling sweet romance author for Montlake and Entangled Publishing who also happens to be a mom, pharmacist, Red Sox fan, P90x grad, and overall nice person. Check out her latest sweet romance: BARGAINING WITH THE BOSS.

2017: Year of the Coarse Corn Cob

At the rate of sounding indelicate, I’m going to phrase the next couple paragraphs as structurally-sound and innuendo-laden as I can. Gird yourselves as I discuss… duh, duh, duuuuhhhhh… the year of the Coarse Corn Cob.

“Capital,” you say.

Eh?

“Letters,” you say.

Indeed, friends, this year deserves some alternative language (and horrifying visuals) as much as it deserves honesty, integrity, and a slew of other words we haven’t seen being used in speech or action. My year started out with big plans, rocket-to-the-moon size plans. I wanted to write X (being a number) of books, submit to agents/publishers, and get on to the next part of my 5-year plan.

Then the Coarse Corn Cob appeared and started it’s unholy pursuit to choke me on dry, kernels and wiry silk. Everyone thought I was joking, making up stories, and speaking the ridiculous rhetoric of the Negative Nancy. Then the Coarse Corn Cob came for them, their family members, their pets, computers, cars, and bank accounts. Soon everyone had crusty silks in their teeth and a bad taste in their mouth.

Hopes and dreams were crushed, jaws left hanging open and in pain. The battle became real for so many. The Coarse Corn Cob, relentless and thick, tried to stuff itself where the sun don’t shine and soak up any moisture remaining, in an effort to spread its putrid seed across the globe.

While I battled, attempting to pry said cob from my over-extended maw, I discovered that I need not fall victim. I spoke with over would-be victims who fought back and found regurgitation a form of defense. There were other methods to wrench control over the Coarse Corn Cob, to make oneself an uninhabitable environment for the cob to sprout spawn.

Such survival required patience, determination, planning, and strength of the mind and body. None of these are easy when being attacked in such a brutal, invasive manner. While the war is not over, I’m slowly winning battles, taking back control, and granting my face much-needed moisturization and relaxation.

So remember this, dear reader: Only you can stop deep cob pummeling and it’s only a matter of time before we shove 2017 Coarse one back in the dark hole it belongs in.

 

Shameless plug: 

Landra recently released a book. The second in The Raven series called The Raven Who Caught The Canary. If you like action-adventure/speculative fiction with some romance, this book might be for you. If you don’t appreciate inter-racial romance or people fighting Nazis, stay away. Check it out at all major ebook retailers. Don’t like searching for stuff? Neither does, Landra. So, she posted them below. To the right, you can see her pretty cover.

Check it out at all major ebook retailers. Don’t like searching for stuff? Neither does, Landra. So, she posted them below. To the right, you can see her pretty cover. Psst, there are more books coming in The Raven series, more Nazis getting their butts handed to them in an alternate historical timeline.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Google Play | iTunes | Kobo | Smashwords

About Landra Graf

Landra Graf consumes at least one book a day and has always been a sucker for stories where true love conquers all. She believes in the power of the written word, and the joy such words can bring. In between spending time with her family and having book adventures, she writes romance with the goal of giving everyone, fictional or not, their own happily ever after.

Sale Blitz: Wrong Brother, Right Match–Jennifer Shirk

Two brothers. One Christmas. One matchmaker’s mistake…

 

 

Wrong Brother, Right Match

Anyone But You #3

Jennifer Shirk

Entangled Bliss

Matchmaking guru Kennedy Pepperdine’s life is perfect. Perfect job. Perfect friends. Perfect boyfriend. Except…when she gets trapped in an elevator with a handsome stranger, she accidentally confesses a secret: maybe her perfect boyfriend, Justin, isn’t so perfect for her after all. But a matchmaker should be able to successfully match herself, right? Thankfully, she’ll never see the handsome stranger again. Until she heads home with Justin for the holidays and learns that the sexy stranger is none other than Justin’s older brother, Matt.

Matt Ellis is trying to be on his best behavior for his mother—it is Christmas, after all. But when he recognizes the beautiful woman from the elevator—the one he hasn’t been able to stop thinking about for months—his best behavior is being held by a thread. Matt’s always sacrificed for his family, and nothing is more important than their happiness, but the more time he spends around Kennedy, the more he wonders if her supposed “right match” might just be the wrong brother.

Praise for Wrong Brother, Right Match

“Wrong Brother, Right Match is basically a Hallmark Christmas Movie in book form and I love it!” – Stephanie’s Book Reviews

If you want to be swept away into a sweet read that will keep you glued to the page then this is the book for you. There was just something about this storyline that was the right amount of sweet, romance and fun that made it unputdownable.”- The Sub Club Books

 Wrong Brother, Right Match WON the 2017 ©Desert Rose RWA® Golden Quill Contest- Sweet Traditional Category

 

99 CENTS FOR A LIMITED TIME

Jennifer Shirk is the award-winning author of sweet (and sometimes even funny) romances for Montlake Romance and Entangled Publishing. Her novel SUNNY DAYS FOR SAM won the 2013 Golden Quill Published Authors Contest for Best Traditional Romance. Recently, her novel, FIANCE BY FATE—a 2015 Readers’ Crown Finalist—became an Amazon #1 best seller for Series Romance. And recently, WRONG BROTHER, RIGHT MATCH won the
Sweet Traditional category of the 2017 Golden Quill Contest.
She resides in a beach resort in NJ, so when she’s not writing or working on her tan, she’s taking care of her most treasured possessions: her husband, daughter and puppy (Sox).

Check out her website for News and Links:

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And don’t forget to join her mailing list for a chance to win free ARCs:

 

About Jennifer Shirk

Jennifer Shirk is a USA Today bestselling sweet romance author for Montlake and Entangled Publishing who also happens to be a mom, pharmacist, Red Sox fan, P90x grad, and overall nice person. Check out her latest sweet romance: BARGAINING WITH THE BOSS.

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