Author Chat with Lavender August 30th @7

On August 30th, 2014, I’ve been invited to do an author chat with the lovely ladies at Violette Dubrinksy’s Fantasyland.

If you’re a current member, you can join the event and ask me all the questions you want. If you’re not a group member, you can join! Easy peasy.

I’m excited to answer your questions!

Also, if you want to ask me questions another way, you can also ask me here on Goodreads.

Advertisements

Meet Vivica St. James

As many of you know, the third book in the St. James Family Series, Kiss of Life, is coming this fall.

This may or may not be the final cover… haven’t decided yet!

Pretty exciting, right?

The book will feature wild child Vivica St. James, the cousin of Annata and Toni. I figured since it’s been awhile, I’d do a little refresher course on Vivvy, because I love her (and she’s Granny’s favorite, shhh don’t tell). She’s such a fun character to write – bad-ass, vulnerable, womanly, and childlike all at the same time. I see her as Annata’s kindred spirit, but I doubt Annie would appreciate the comparison! She loves and lives hard, but she also makes some very bad decisions along the way. So let’s dive in, shall we?

10 THINGS ABOUT VIVICA ST. JAMES

1. She hasn’t seen her family in years, but now she’s back.

At the beginning of Kiss of Ice, Annata reveals she hasn’t seen her cousin in over five years and she rarely calls home. It was revealed in Kiss of Fire that Toni hasn’t seen Viv since she was a teenager. Vivica hasn’t talked to her brother Holland in years and didn’t even call home when he was injured overseas while serving in the military. Vivica has been angry with her brother for a long time because she feels he abandoned her when she needed him most. The only person she talks to semi-regularly is Granny.

2. She was once a successful print and runway model… but she’s not working as much as she used to.

In Kiss of Ice, it’s revealed that Vivica has been on billboard ads in Times Square. In Kiss of Fire, Toni reveals that for years, she’s bought fashion mags to thumb through and look for pictures of her cousin. However, pictures of Vivica are appearing less and less. When Toni makes a surprise trip home to Louisiana, she’s surprised to find Vivica hiding out at Granny’s house, looking very unmodel-like in a pair of men’s overalls. She’s also 27 and aging out of a profession that feeds on young girls.

3. She smokes like a chimney.

Vivica is a chain smoker in her teenage years. Not sexy, but realistic to the kind of person she is. She also has an addictive personality and tends to overdo drugs and alcohol. By the end of Kiss of Life, she’s clean and sober, but it’s a long road she has to travel.

4. She’s been in love with the same boy since she was 17.

Despite dating suave and sophisticated men from all over the world (she’s partial to rich Italians), she’s only ever loved one boy – Niko Hernandez, a half Puerto-Rican, half Samoan kid from Brooklyn Heights. The two met in high school and she’s never forgotten him. Especially since he’s the one she gave her virginity to… very willingly.

5. Her mother Cassandra has been missing since she was 17.

Kind of how I see Viv… Add freckles and a gap between her two front teeth!

Alcoholic Cassandra St. James has been AWOL under mysterious circumstances since Vivica first left home. Vivica and Holland have never been particularly interested in digging up their mother from whatever hole she fell into, but that will change in Kiss of Life.

6. Vivica is half-Vietnamese.

Cassandra, her mother, is Vietnamese, and her father, Richard, was black. Unlike the rest of the St. James clan, she inherited her mother’s black eyes instead of her father’s golden-brown eyes. She is described as ‘alien-like’ in Breaking the Ice and is not traditionally pretty. Her high school nickname was ‘Ugly’ and, according to O’Donovan in Kiss of Fire, she’s not exactly attractive… but there’s something about her that catches the eye and holds it.

7.  She’s friends with rock star Cee from The Burning One.

I’ve mentioned before that The Burning One was supposed to be a spin-off of Kiss of Life, but I jumped the gun on Cee’s story. Well, in Kiss of Life, we’ll catch up with Cee and Indira and see how those two crazy cats are dealing with wedded bliss.

8. She’s a liar.

Vivica is a liar who will say anything to get what she wants. She will also blackmail, cheat, and steal and has no qualms about it. She comes from a very hardscrabble childhood and she’s convinced that if she doesn’t take what she wants, she’ll never get it. Obviously, she has a huge hill to climb if she’s ever going to be honest with herself and admit what she really needs from Niko and her family.

9. Her father died under mysterious circumstances.

Richard St. James died when Vivica was very young and what happened on the night of his death remains a mystery. The only thing everyone knows for sure – Cassandra was at his side the night of the car accident that took his life. Cassandra’s the only one who knows the truth, but she’s not talking.

10. Her favorite cereal is Cocoa Puffs, but she’ll settle for Lucky Charms.

Vivica can often be found with her hand in a box of dry cereal, munching away as if her life depended on it. Vivica grew up in a house where there was often nothing but dry cereal to eat, so to her, there’s nothing more comforting than a handful of Cocoa Puffs. She’s eaten in some of the finest restaurants in the world, but give her a box of cereal and she’s set.

So there you have it. My girl Vivvy is one tough nut to crack, but it’s going to be so fun to finish her and Niko’s story! I can’t wait!

To Stand Alone Or Not To Stand Alone…

So I decided to shake up the release schedule, just a bit. I’ve pushed Stone Cold Knockout back to August so that I can focus on finishing up a stand alone novella called Flower in the Desert.

Love this colorful cover!

Why, you may ask?

The short answer is that I don’t want to rush SCK, which is the first novel in my new House of Pain series. The first book in a series is always the most read, and it is also often the deciding factor on whether people will continue to read the other books in the series or not. So for that reason, I’m taking my time on it. I’m letting it marinate. But it’s gonna be REAL GOOD, I swear.

Which brings me to Flower in the Desert. I’m a (teeny-bit) scared to publish another stand alone because my last stand alone, The Burning One, was such a flop. Full disclosure- The Burning One is my worst selling title by far, despite the fact that it’s gotten decent reviews. I also think it’s my best plotted book so far and the characters are really interesting, but hey, I’m biased.

I contribute low sales to several factors:

1) The Heroine is British-Indian, not black.The Hero is black, not white. BW/WM is the most popular romantic pairing in IR, currently. Also, she’s 35 and he’s 26 when the book starts out. The age difference might turn some readers off.

2) It’s a rock-star romance, which means there’s drug use and some kinky sexual stuff going on. Not everyone’s cuppa.

3) It’s a stand alone! Stand alones are tricky. Even though reviewers often decry cliffie endings, romantic series still rule the day. I am hoping that a tie-in with Kiss of Life will maybe convince readers to give this one a shot. Originally, Cee was supposed to be introduced in Kiss of Life, and then have his own spin-off, but I kind of jumped the gun on his story. Oopsie!

4) Price. I’ve pretty much kept The Burning One at $2.99 because I didn’t have anything else at that price point, now that the St. James Family books are $3.99. I played around with it at $0.99, and it did sell better, but not good enough to warrant keeping it that low and not making money. However, once SCK comes out, I might drop the price permanently. It is a full novel though, not a novella, so I feel kind of weird having it at $0.99. However, the more books I have out, the more I can play around with price in the future.

So why might Flower in the Desert be different? Well, first of all, it’ll be permanently priced at $0.99! That’s exciting! It’s also a different genre, romantic suspense. Lastly, the Heroine, Ruby, is black and the Hero, Jase, is Native American. I’ve been wanting to write a Native American hero for awhile. I told you guys in an earlier post about my love for the old western romances of yore. Unfortunately, they aren’t really in vogue right now. Flower in the Desert is kind of a throwback to those old romances, but set in modern times. Ruby and Jase have to lean on each other to survive in the unforgiving desert of the Grand Canyon. I’m having fun writing it, that’s for sure.

So look for Flower in the Desert soon! I’ll have a blurb up later this week. 🙂

 

Mid-Year Book Release Update

Sooo summer is upon us (in the Northern Hemisphere, that is) and I’ll admit I’m not writing as much as I should… It’s so nice out and there’s so much to do and blaaaaaah blah blah.

What I’ve been doing instead of writing…

However, I assure you Stone Cold Knockout is coming, slowly but surely. I’m about two-thirds of the way through and I’m working on it everyday, bit by bit. I’m hoping for a June 25th release date, but I think that might be a little optimistic. It’s looking more like late June/early July.

Other book news:

I’m working on a novella about a rescue in the Grand Canyon featuring a Black Woman/Native American Man pairing that I hope to have out in July. I’m also working on a DARK (we’re talking scary dark) erotic novel that I’m going to put out under another pen name in July. Maybe I’ll tell you what it is, if you ask nicely. Tee hee!

Next, I hope to have Kiss of Life out in September and a short novella featuring Holland St. James out around the same time as well. As you may remember, Holland is Vivica’s brother and Annata and Toni’s cousin, and he showed up last in Kiss of Ice. The novella will set up the last book in the St. James Family Series, Kiss of Night, which will be out in 2015.

Lastly, I’m still planning book one in my new suspense series, A Devil Named Dixon, for November. I’m still in the brainstorming stages for it, but I am super excited about it.

Whew! That was a lot of info. Hope everybody is having tons of fun in the sun!

 

Why Write Romance?

So I read this article yesterday on nymag.com. Historical novelist Eloisa James is interviewed and she has some great things to say about being a romance writer. That inspired me to write a little bit about why I choose to write romance.

First off, I’m a feminist.

Does that matter? Yes!

I decided to write romance novels because I like that romance novels are (for the most part) written for women, by women. Like rom-coms, melodramas, chick-lit, and soap operas, romance novels are often considered ‘not artistic’ or ‘less than’ because of this fact.  50 Shades of Grey and Twilight are just the latest punching bags in the long history of women’s lit and romance punching bags, but I think it’s unfair to make these two hugely successful outliers the ‘end all be all’ of romance. There are a TON of romance novels, with lots of different characters, storylines, and messages. As we true romance fanatics know, 50 Shades is not indicative of all romance, period. But since women are the ones buying and reading romance, I do think it’s important that there be some actual feminist thought contained behind all those bodice-ripping pages.

Straight up: I wrote Kiss of Ice because I was fed up with the types of heroines that were being written in romance. I was tired of the Bellas and Anastasia Steeles. There’s obviously something attractive about those types of weak heroines for a large portion of the population, but I am not one of those readers. I like a bitchy heroine, an active heroine, a difficult heroine, a smart heroine, a heroine that knows what she wants and goes for it. I like a heroine that’s not perfect and not sweet.  And I like a male hero who likes a difficult, smart, feisty, not-perfect heroine. I like the fight. I like the banter. I like the power shifts that happen. I like the clash of two people on an equal playing field.

That’s the important part: in the end, they’re equals. By the end of Kiss of Fire, Toni and O’Donovan are equals. Christophe and Annata are equals. One isn’t more powerful or any more ‘right’ in their relationship. One doesn’t dominate the other. There’s a shifting of power and a back and forth as they fall in love and they figure out how to be together, but in the end, the struggle makes it all worth it. That’s how I think relationships should be. I like when my heroes and heroines are a team. And, of course, I like the happily ever after of two people who are meant to be together. Who wouldn’t?

Not all my heroines are bitchy… but they are all complex and three-dimensional, because that’s how human beings are. Their lives are enriched by being in love, but the love doesn’t take over everything. They’re all successful and self-actualized in their own right. I like writing, and reading, about women like that. (P.S. I’m always looking for stories with heroines like that, so if you know any, comment below!)

Lastly, I decided to write romance because I couldn’t NOT write romance. Most of my writerly persuasions and inclinations lean toward romance. When I write scripts, I tend to keep the romance front and center as well, although I’ve written mostly action and horror scripts. I can’t help it! I love a good love story. By ‘good love story’, I mean a love story full of drama and stakes and real connection between two characters. When watching a movie or reading a book, I can’t stand when I’m supposed to believe that two characters are in love because I’m told that they’re in love. I want to see them fall in love. I want to see that moment when they realize that they can’t live without each other. I want to see that moment of heartbreak when they can’t be together even though they want to be. I love that shizz. I eat it up with a spoon!

Ahem.

Basically, I love the possibilities of the genre. I don’t fangirl everything that’s out there. Not gonna lie, I’m a harsh critic. But I live for that moment when I find a great book and a new author to stalk.

So why do I write romance? Because I love it!

To any other authors out there, why do you write romance?

 

 

Wanna win a free copy of KISS OF ICE?

Anybody in the mood for a contest? I know I am!

I am giving away TWO free copies of the brand-spanking new KISS OF ICE audiobook!

You want to join? As Toni would say, it’s as easy as pie.

Find my page on Facebook and click the GIVEAWAY tab:Screen Shot 2014-05-20 at 1.59.33 PM

or click here  to join via Rafflecopter.

When the contest ends on June 1st, I’ll notify the two winners and give you the information you need to access your free download.ohmy

 

KISS OF ICE Audiobook Available Now

KISS OF ICE_AUDIOBOOKKiss of Ice, my first novel, is now available on Audible.com… here! It’s also available on Amazon. I worked with a great narrator, Lynn Barrington, and the total running time is 8 hours 35 minutes.

It’ll be available for iTunes soon as well.

If you’re planning a big summertime road trip, (like I am) listening to audiobooks is a great way to pass the time. Just sayin’. 🙂