Bonne Anniversaire, Lavender!

So I just realized something this past Christmas – while I was busy doing all the crap you do for the holidays – that I’ve been writing romances under the name Lavender Parker for three years! Time flies when you’re having fun (and having crippling creative blocks, but I digress…)

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Although it’s a bit past the official three year marker, I decided to do a lil wrap-up of the past three years for myself and you, my poor starved readers. So without further ado, here’s some musings on my past writings and future writings as well:

Favorite Book (so far): The Burning One

This is difficult, but I think my favorite overall is still The Burning One. It’s my biggest flop, sales-wise, but I still love the unusual story. Especially near the end of the book, when the story shifts to South America and Cee and Indira really have it out at Indira’s farm in the middle of nowhere. It’s a strange, slightly controversial story but I’m happy I wrote it. To me, it’s one of the most interesting stories that I’ve written and explores the dark and shady areas of psychology and grief, as well as romance.

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Frank Ocean.

So as fans of Frank Ocean know, his looooooooong awaited album was supposed to drop today.

fooled ya

fooled ya

Surprise surprise, it hasn’t. Now, technically, there’s still several hours left today in which this album could drop, but it’s not looking good. While Frank’s fans cry in a corner, I was going through people’s reactions on Twitter and I had a realization.

I am Frank. Frank is me.

Not really. Frank is (arguably) a music genius and definitely more influential and interesting than I will ever be, but we’re both similar in at least one aspect – endless delays. Pushing forward projects that we might not be ready to let go of creatively because we feel like they should be finished. Enough, already! I find myself thinking when I’m staring at an unfinished scene in a book that should’ve (by my estimation) been finished months ago. I get so frustrated at myself for taking a long time to finish a book that the book ends up taking longer and longer. Months pass beyond my initial self-imposed due date. Any excitement and stimulation I felt about finishing a book starts to drain away.

But I keep pressing on. This writing ‘thing’ isn’t just a casual fling with me. It’s a lifelong love affair that I have to keep nurturing. Once I finish one book, I’ll move on to the next and then the next and the next. I think about my characters and their plot problems everyday. I write everyday, even if it’s only a paragraph. It might not be as fast of a process as I’d like, but I have to remember to keep it as creatively enriching as possible. I have to stop pushing myself to force out fast food and remember to let my ideas marinate. Not forever, but for as long as they need to become tasty morsels for all of you who enjoy my work.

Who ever said the life of a creative was easy? Cuz they lied! But to all my fellow artists out there, it’s worth it. I think πŸ™‚

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I hope Frank feels the same way.

For all of you dying for updates, here’s what my VERY LOOSE schedule looks for the rest of 2016:

  • a novella spin-off of Flower in the Desert that I discussed in an earlier post. It’s tentatively titled Light in the Wilderness and should be out late this month
  • Beautiful Beatdown is very high on the priority list, of course. Hoping to have it out this fall.
  • I hope to have more installments of Dirty Rotten Dixons out before Christmas

Thanks for reading my rants~

L

 

(all images, credit to owners)

It’s Deep, Fam

Recently a friend recommended to me that I check out Being Mary Jane, which is currently available on Netflix. For everyone who doesn’t know, Mary Jane normally airs on BET and it stars Gabrielle Union as a popular daytime host on an MSNBC-esque channel. The show follows her ups and downs in the dating world as well as in her career field. My friend texted me about it and it sounded up my alley and I had some free time, so I plopped down on my couch and decided to watch. At first, the show appeared to be similar to many romantic comedies – girl wants guy, guy shows up unexpectedly, girl is surprised and has a comedic freakout while she readies herself for guy. I was prepared to flick it off at the first sign of cliched or hackneyed writing because, let’s be real, I probably should’ve been writing my own novels and not watching TV anyway.

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As you can probably tell, I had some preconceived notions about the show. I thought it was going to be similar to Girlfriends which was created by the same producer. No offense to lovers of Girlfriends (including my boyfriend, who used to watch old reruns for shits), but I was never that into it (even though the theme song still gets stuck in my head randomly from time to time grrr) I also hadn’t heard much about Being Mary Jane in general. Everybody on Facebook or Twitter is always talking about Scandal or Empire but no one seems to be paying attention to this little show on BET. What a tragedy, though, because let me tell you – Being Mary Jane is great.

For starters, Mary Jane lives in Atlanta, Georgia in a ridiculously beautiful home. She dates ridiculously beautiful men and she herself is ridiculously beautiful (seriously, what kind of virgin-blood-infused youth elixir is Gabrielle taking? Gimme some!) So basically, it has a similar set-up to a lot of contemporary romance stories – MJ is a successful single woman who wants to settle down with the right man and have kids. And when I say ‘right man’ I mean educated, successful, and HOT. I could go on and on about the Hot Man Candyβ„’ that is on this show but I won’t…

Yeah… pretty sure he knows he’s hot.

Mary Jane’s dating woes take up a good portion of the show and, as a romance writer, of course I’m interested in the way the writers tackle that subject. They do a great job, in my opinion. Mary Jane’s romantic entanglements feel fresh and are portrayed in funny and sometimes heartbreaking ways. Also, can I just mention that I LOVE that they portray female masturbation and female sexual appetite as a normal and regular thing? All the praises for that. However, what I really think stands out about Mary Jane as a show is the way she interacts with her colorful and dysfunctional family.

MJ has a well-known, once highly successful father, a manipulative mother with Lupus, an older brother who was once successful in his own right but now has drug problems, a younger brother in college who has a side job dealing weed, and – my favorite of all – a snarky nineteen year old niece who’s already the mother of one baby and is pregnant with another. Now, I’m not going to go into all the family drama or give away plot points but I love that the writers chose to give MJ such a rich and interesting family dynamic. The drama comes from the immediate situation – Mary Jane’s family is basically living off of her and she feels burdened and taken advantage of – but there’s so much more to it because the characters are extremely well fleshed-out and their relationships have a lot of layers. There’s no cliched or one-dimensional characters here. The writers have taken typical, cliched Black tropes – the drug addict, the unwed teen mother – and turned them into three-dimensional characters. They’re funny, flawed, hot messes who are all ultimately lovable and sympathetic characters.

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As a lot of you might know from my books, I have a ‘thing’ for writing families. I enjoy writing about family dynamics. Not only biological families, but also the families that we create for ourselves with friends and people who we meet in life and choose to love. I really appreciate that the creators of Mary Jane took the time and made it a priority to focus on her family. They could’ve chosen to focus mostly on her friendships or her relationships but I think the show is better for going in the direction that they did. It makes it richer and more well-rounded. It’s not only a show about an extremely successful woman with a lot of money, but it’s also about how the people who know her best react to her success and come to terms with it and, at times, take advantage of it.

Also, the show is just really funny, daring and sexy. Seriously. Watch it.

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Another show that I think does a great job of portraying another black family in a deeply layered and interesting way is Empire (although I’ll admit I’m not caught up on this latest season).Β  The show is wacky and over the top, but the family relationships (almost) always feel based in reality. Giving them the backstory of the Cookie’s jail sentence and their prior life in poverty was really smart, in my opinion. It adds a layer of desperation and the feel that, even though they’re extremely successful and rich now, they could easily backslide into poverty. Anyway, I’m late in talking about Empire, but the family dynamics were what kept me tuning in every week, as well as the good music.

And of course, Cookie is one of the best characters ever.

So there you have it. I hope you’ll all give Being Mary Jane a shot, if you haven’t already. I think I’ve gushed enough about it, so now I’ll give you some updates although there’s not much to report. I’ve been busy writing lately, but it’s slow going. No surprise there, eh?Β  2016 is gonna be all about playing catch-up with my series so expect me to be more active in the coming months. I’ll be updating about the third book in the House of Pain series, Beautiful Beatdown, soon. So if you haven’t read the second book, Spitfire Suckerpunch, you might want to get on that πŸ™‚

 

(all images credited to owners)

Looking Ahead

Now that 2015 is almost over, I’m trying not to be depressed about my work output this year. 2014 was a really productive and creative year for me, and 2015 was, to say the least, NOT. But I’m not going to let myself get too down. I’m proud of myself for releasing Spitfire Suckerpunch, and I hope that you guys are enjoying Tate and Shay’s story.

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For right now, I’m working on finally finishing Kiss of Life. Vivica’s story has been haunting me for a long time and I know you guys are very anxious to see how her story plays out. I’m very motivated to get it to you guys sometime this holiday season, so just know that I’m working hard on it and it will be coming!

A Devil Named Dixon has been on the back-burner forever, and for fans of that series, I apologize. I wrote the first part when I was struggling with Spitfire and I never thought it would take this long to complete. I’m actually considering taking it off sale until I can finish the rest of the parts. I don’t want to disappoint anyone who’s been waiting a long time for the continuation, but I just am still not in a great place, writing-wise. Kiss of Life is most important right now.

Anyway, I hope you guys are enjoying fall and getting in those pumpkin spice lattes while you still can.

SPITFIRE SUCKERPUNCH IS LIVE!

So it’s been a long time coming but I’m so glad to finally be able to say this:

SPITFIRE SUCKERPUNCH is up on Amazon right this very minute. Go get your copies y’all!

As always, it’ll be up on B&N a little later, so keep an eye out for that post.

Anyway, here’s the synopsis:

spitfire_FB picWhen a cop fights for his life, a criminal meets her match…

Life is finally starting to go Tate Grayson’s way. He’s come to peace with his painful past and has accepted his place in Big Jimmy Domino’s rag tag family of outcasts. Life is good. But the shy, not-so-gentle giant has no idea that a sexy spitfire from his past is about to reappear and punch a big messy hole right through his quiet existence.

Growing up in Harlem, Shay ‘Sugar’ Spears was taught to never trust the police. Why she ever thought she could trust the big blonde cop with the shy smile, she’ll never know. The joke was on her when he arrested her for a crime that she didn’t commit. She went to prison for six long years, but now she’s free and she’s looking for revenge. Tate may be irresistible, but there’s no way in hell Shay is going to let him get away with what he did to her. She’s on a mission to make him just as miserable as she is.

Problem is, every time Shay looks at Tate, all of her plotting and scheming becomes less about making him pay and more about making him hers. But Shay is playing with fire and it’s only a matter of time before she gets burned…

 

SPITFIRE SUCKERPUNCH RELEASE DATE!!! [UPDATED]

Guys.

GUYS!

So this book is finally getting a release date. It’s been so hard. I feel like you guys know my struggle, so I won’t talk about it anymore. But can I just say how much I love Shay and Tate? I truly do love them, even though telling their story made me want to pull my hair out at times. Writing has been such a bitch to me lately but I love it and I will gladly wade through the shitty times to get to a day like today, where I can finally announce a book’s release date.

So without further ado:

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SPITFIRE SUCKERPUNCH will be released on September 24th, 2015.

Yes, folks, that’s this year not next year.

*happy dance*

Anyway, I’ll be back tomorrow with an excerpt and I’ll be on social media soon with some ads and all that good stuff.

I hope you’re all looking forward to it!

[UPDATE]

So you guys are probably going to hate me a bit, but to give my beta readers a bit more time with the book, I’m pushing the release date to MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 28TH. I know, I really debated about doing this, but I think it’s for the best. I want to make sure this book is awesome, especially since I spent so much damn time on it!

So I will let you all know when it’s up. Thanks so much for all of the support!! I love all of you πŸ™‚

Cover Reveal: SPITFIRE SUCKERPUNCH (House of Pain #2)

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Hi all! Happy Friday!

Now I know you are all looking forward to book 2 in my House of Pain series. If you still haven’t read the first one (STONE COLD KNOCKOUT) then you need to get on it before the sequel comes out… just sayin’ πŸ™‚

I don’t have an official release date yet, but it’s coming super soon. So until then, here’s the smexy cover to hold you over!