Love in Full Color: Author Tracey Livesay and The Tycoon’s Socialite Bride

10 Feb

Today, I’m lending my spot to good friend and fellow interracial romance author Tracey Livesay. Her passion for this growing subgenre is delightful, and she’s got a real talent for storytelling. She’s also a law school survivor. You know how I support the mission to help people escape The Practice by any means necessary.

Please give Tracey a warm welcome, pick up a copy of The Tycoon’s Socialite Bride today!

Thank you, Alexa, for having me on the blog today! 🙂

I read my first romance novel at the age of eleven and I was instantly addicted. The stories of beautiful women and strong men who fell in love was like teenage girl catnip. I read lots of them and started to notice a common theme. Book after book contained some variation of the hero waxing poetic about the heroine’s fine, delicate features, her flowing mane the color of wheat, and her smooth peaches and cream complexion.

Where did that leave me? I wanted to be seen as beautiful. Where were the books where men were entranced by the cocoa color of my skin? Where they loved the tight coils in my hair and the fullness of my lips? Every once in a while, I’d luck up and find a romance novel with black people, like Jackie Weger’s A Strong and Tender Thread from Harlequin American Romance, but why weren’t there more? Why were romance publishers reluctant to feature love stories involving people of color?

In the 90s, the industry took steps to rectify the situation. Kensington published books featuring black characters under their Arabesque imprint. They sold the line to BET Books who eventually sold it to Harlequin. Harlequin took the line and started Kimani Romance, the only category series imprint with black and multicultural heroes and heroines.

During this time, my life progressed. I met and married my husband, who is white. We settled into life, bought a house and started a family. I left my job as a Public Defender to stay home with our children. And through it all, I kept reading romance novels.

As my children grew and entered school, the idea to try my hand at writing became viable. There was now a whole imprint dedicated to love stories between black women and men. Is that what I should write? And though there was an imprint for these stories, was that the only place I wanted to be? Were there any other choices or options?

And then it came to me. I wanted to write something different. I wouldn’t write stories to fit the expectations of others. I would write the stories that reflected my experiences, but would also speak to girls like me. Marriages of convenience, secret babies, friend to lovers; all the classic category romance tropes I grew up reading but with heroines who looked like me, and white heroes who found them beautiful.

Looking for stories recounting the difficulties of being in interracial relationships? You’ll have to find those elsewhere. In my books, the differing races of the protagonists are the least of their problems. And when a young black girl downloads my novel, excited to see someone who looks like her on the cover? She’ll know that she is beautiful, too and her love story, in whatever form or shape it takes, is worthy of being told.

I’m still at the beginning of my publishing journey, but so far, I haven’t met with any resistance to my stories or requests asking me to change the race of my characters. In the months leading up to my release, I’ve seen blog posts and calls for submission that mention wanting Interracial and Multicultural love stories, so maybe the industry is finally catching up to what’s happening in society. I hope so. I think we’ll all be richer for the experience.

The Tycoon's Socialite Bride

To avenge his mother’s mistreatment at the hands of her upper-crust employer, self-made real estate tycoon Marcus Pearson needs entree into their exclusive world. When D.C. socialite Pamela Harrington comes to him for help, Marcus realizes the golden admission ticket he’s been seeking has suddenly fallen into his lap.

Pamela will do anything to save her favorite cause, even agree to a marriage of convenience. The altruistic “it-girl” isn’t worried about the pretend passion with Marcus turning real; she’s sworn off powerful, driven men who use her for her family’s connections.

So she’ll deny the way her pulse races with one look from his crystalline blue eyes. And he’ll ignore the way his body throbs with each kiss from her full lips. Because there’s no way he’ll lose his blue-collar heart to the blue-blooded beauty.

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Tracey Livesay wrote her first romance novel at the age of eleven, called “The Healing Power of Love.” With a detour through college and law school–where she met her husband on the very first day–she’s finally achieved her dream of being a published author. She lives in Virginia with said husband and three kids. For info on her upcoming releases or to chat about TV, movies and/or purses you can check out her website (traceylivesay.com) or find her on Facebook (TraceyLivesayAuthor) and Twitter (@tlivesay).

To Sequel or Not, That is the Question

23 Jan

It doesn’t seem like a complex question, whether or not to write sequels to stories already written, but the answer isn’t always clear at first look and it depends on several factors.

The first factor to consider is the original story. Was is strong enough to stand on its own or did it leave some questions to be answered after the final paragraph? Also, did it have strong enough supporting characters that perhaps their stories need to be written?

The second factor is the Muse. As an author, I call the creative energy that brings out the tales I write just “The Muse”. Some folks name them. My friend Silver James has named her Muse Iffy and she runs with scissors. If you’ve read Silver’s stories, it makes sense. If the Muse isn’t interested in a sequel, it won’t happen. I’ve had several requests for a continuation of Her Devoted Vampire, but so far, the Muse is mum on more.

The third factor is a more practical one. Readers love series. They want to know what happens to the characters after the sun comes up after they’ve ridden off into the sunset. Or at least to their family and friends. Series require more than one book, so sequels are needed. Hopefully the Muse agrees and spins tales like tapestries from a loom.

TNG-webfinalAs for myself, I have two series going and the Muse has graciously told me storylines for most of the stories in them. My latest release is The Navy’s Ghost, a Menage a’SEALs tale and romantic suspense, and the first book in the Bad Boys of Beta Squad series. While I wrote that one, the Muse told me a storyline for a prequel for one of the squad members and she’s been hot to finish this bad boy. That should be out in a couple of months. And I have story ideas for Book 2 and Book 3, plus Books 3 and 4 for my Cloudburst Colorado series.

So for me, right now with the Muse’s blessing, the answer is yes, I’m writing sequels. If you’re a reader, that means there’s plenty to look forward to. What’s your favorite type of reading? Stand alone tales or series?

Pretty Women

16 Jan
working_girl_coat_crop

Working Girl by Nara Malone

1. Movie Night

“She’s so pretty,” I whispered.

“And she knows it,” my sister said, dragging an afghan over her daughter, concealing slim legs and new curves.

“I say study hard. I do my best to ugly her up–wrong clothes, bad haircut. All that pretty keeps punching through.”

I punched the button on the DVD player, slid Pretty Woman into its envelope.

“It’ll be okay,” I said.

Neither of us believed it.

2. Candle in the Wind

“It’s too pretty out,” my sister said.

It was. Funerals deserve a rainy day.

She leaned into me.

She didn’t ask why. We knew why.

I asked, “How?”

She was shaking her head as if denial could change results. “She ran off. Some guy gonna make her a star. You know?”

I did.

We held hands. Her nails dug crescents into my palm as dirt showered the pretty coffin.

3. A Star is Born

My sister visited the hospital. My new daughter wailed, but I couldn’t touch her.

“What’s this about?” Sissy said, bustling over to tend the baby. She froze mid-reach.

My heart fell from hope to hell, tumbled like a star. “You see it too?”

Her hands went to fists. “She looks like Arielle.”

She gathered me in her arms. We rocked each other. “This time will be different,” she promised.

I wanted to believe.

~Nara Malone

A somber 69er threesome today with the focus on verbs. The word limit of each verse made this a challenge. All I can say is that at least one of my verbs rocks. This is my contribution to dVerse Poets Meeting the Bar. Stop by and see what others wrote or to join the fun yourself.

The Night the Lights Went Out: Romanticizing the Blackout

13 Jan

During the recent cold snap, I heard from a number of my social media friends who found themselves snowed in and dealing with first-world deprivations of all kinds. No cable. Dodgy internet coverage. Insufficient liquor supplies. I don’t mean to make light of the first-world deprivations – I certainly wouldn’t want to be snowed in with too many houseguests and not enough Pinnacle cake vodka. The winter weather really knows how to hit below the belt.

But when it comes to serious consequences, few things matter like losing the power.

We had an epic ice storm here years ago that left some of my friends without power for two weeks. (I was out of town with too many other houseguests and not enough cake vodka.) My buddies still tell stories of the long days they spent without electronic distractions and modern conveniences, and they all seem to be emotionally undamaged by the experience now. Still, I wonder if the 21st century blackout is … well … gentler than its predecessors.

Once, in the winter blackouts of yore, you could count on candlelight and maybe a nice warm fire on the hearth. Maybe you’d have a nice glass of brandy – suitable for sharing – and then perhaps an early trip to bed – also suitable for sharing. For some of us, the old-school blackout was a wonderful excuse for getting unplugged. In my former life, when I had Job From Hell, I often quietly wished for a blackout to enforce the boundaries I couldn’t quite enforce for myself.

Today’s power outage is a little different. LEDs have replaced candles with the least sexy lighting available (although you won’t have to squint at that book you’ve been meaning to read). If you’ve got a full charge on your various portables – you know, the ones they won’t let you use on the plane – you might not even notice the power’s out. Except that it’s a little chilly.

I’ll admit that my perspective is a little skewed. I’ve gotten spoiled by years of living near a hospital. I don’t remember the last time any power outage lasted longer than eight hours at my house. It’s easy for me to long for a nice, relaxing power outage when it doesn’t have time to get all that uncomfortable. After two weeks with no power, I can promise you that I’m not going to be nostalgic about the candlelight anymore; I’m going to want a nice long shower before a good night’s sleep with all the lights on. I would probably be a little freaked out by a long-term power outage – did anyone else see American Blackout on the National Geographic Channel?

Hmm. Maybe the modern power outage is more of a menace than I remember. Even so, I can still see the benefit of an unplugged evening or two every so often.

In the summertime.

**Alexa Day is enjoying electricity just fine, thank you very much. Look for her here once a month, or check her out on Facebook.

Storytelling: Taking the Next Step

9 Jan

Have any of you read Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury? It’s a story about how the future would be, as imagined in 1951, with books being dangerous objects and outlawed so much, Firemen were actually required to come and burn whole libraries. Instead of the printed word, people were supposed to be entertained by talking walls, large screens that took up entire rooms and could have “people” standing around you.

This story is amazingly well written and well told, but it scared the bejeezus outta me. Why? They were burning books, trying to kill imagination. Disguising the world into their own belief of the black and white. The intent was to control the people. Keep them drugged up on the euphoria of visual and audio stimulus. There was no place for thinking or imagining.

Can you imagine?

As an author, it’s a scary prospect. With that view, imagination seems like a fragile thing to be kept sacred and nursed, hidden away. Fortunately, stories are now in an electronic format, easily moved or transported, copies hidden in various places so nothing would be lost. Backups upon backups, so if one falters, another can continue in its place.

Yes, I’m waxing poetic like an onstage poet. But the truth is, storytelling has a rich history. First, it was oral, handed down from one generation to the next so everyone would know either history or legend. Then we found pen and ink, and wrote the tales to paper or hide, coinciding with live plays, acting out the stories. Then came the printing press and books with hard covers and soft pages were born. Currently, the stories are strung out of thought and typed onto a screen, held sacred by little ones and zeroes until resolved into decipherable words. Or shown on the big screen with actors relating the words to you.

What’s the next step? Bradbury had the inklings of it. You get to be your own actor, playing out a tale of your own making. Or even roleplaying a story made by someone else. OpenSimulator, a program meant for online and virtual interaction, offers a unique opportunity for readers. Authors are now writing little pieces of flashfiction, little snippets of storyline to entice you to come see more and find out where the tale goes. In the next few weeks, Nara Malone and I will be working on depositing these little snippets where you can find them if you join the virtual community. Nara and I both write paranormal romance, we like our stories with magic and unusual critters occupying the pages (screens?), but we are joined by other authors, some erotic, some not, and all you have to do is walk through the worlds to receive little snippets of tantalizing tales.

So are you ready to take the next step? Come join us. Stop by Nara’s Tea & Strumpets blog to find out how. 🙂 Hope to see you there.

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Flasher Fiction: Working Girls

7 Jan

At the start of the New Year it’s nice to strike out in new directions. That’s what we aim to do here at Passionate Reads and at the Greyville Writer’s Colony. The publishing industry and writers are struggling with digital disruption. I’m ready to embrace it, ready to see if we can make digital work for us in new ways.

Author Tina Glasneck shared an article with me this morning on the J A Konrath’s predictions for the future of publishing. He says some interesting things, including plans to explore interactive media more. A similar theme was at the heart of the Future of Storytelling class I took recently at iVersity. The future is interactivity.

If you know me, you know interactive fiction is my passion. I’m pleased to see that the genre is gaining attention just as the Greyville Writer’s Colony authors are hard at work on new ways to bring interactivity to writing and publishing.

Konrath wound up his predictions with this comment:

“The way to succeed in this future is to live and think in this future. That means continuing to innovate, experiment, and refuse to be satisfied.”

At Greyville Colony we literally log into the future of fiction. We walk around in that future and sit down to chat with it. If you want to keep an eye on the future then this blog is an excellent place to see where that future is headed.

My first experiment of the year was to build a scene in a virtual world populate it with characters and use it to make illustrations for a new form of storytelling I wanted to try. It’s not interactive fiction but is was a story created in a pixel world by an avatar. I call it a Flasher.

My definition of a flasher is a story length somewhere between 55-250 words–a page or less. Sixty-nine words being my favorite length and a sixty-niner threesome being a nice tool for creating the beginning-middle-end setup of a story.

I love flash fiction but I’ve always felt it could gain a wider audience if paired with images. Yes, you can create mood, setting, characterization in just a few words. That’s part of the challenge. By employing a few poetic techniques, flash fiction delivers characters and emotional punch that can get lost in longer narratives.

This process, learning to use the poetry of images and words together, was like crack for the creative mind. The project hooked me and wouldn’t let go until I finished.

Get the complete Working Girls flasher here. It’s a free quickie–7 pages in PDF format. I think I’ll write a lot more flashers. Maybe a 69er threesome flash next time.

If you’d like to make a flasher, keep an eye on the NarasNook.com blog. I plan to have a tutorial up in 2 weeks detailing how to make these graphic flash fiction mash-ups–no drawing ability required. If you’re impatient to learn more, drop in and visit us at the virtual Greyville Writer’s Colony where we’re always pushing the limits of what a story can be. Membership is free and open to everyone.

SexyScopes – 2014 Annual Forecast

29 Dec

2014Book news first 🙂 – Thank you to all the loyal readers of my futuristic Innerworld Affairs series. The never-before-released Book 5, “ROMAN” will be available for download in the spring! My Amazon Author Page

When it comes to a long-range forecast that needs to be generalized for a large number of people, the metaphysical tool I find to be most accurate is numerology. I won’t list all the things that created negative energy, making tough situations even harder last year, but I would like to point out that in numerology 2014 equals “7”, the number that has two distinctly different interpretations depending on one’s behavior in the previous years—either positive spiritual connections and psychic expansion or challenging upheaval and confrontations due to situations one has been avoiding. Below you’ll find the key to discovering the numerology affecting you personally in 2013, but first here are the astrological factors that could help you do some advance planning.

Since Mercury rules travel as well as technology, it’s always helpful to know when that planet is going to be retrograde before planning vacations. In 2014, the weeks that could be troublesome are: 2/6-2/28, 6/7-7/2 and 10/4-10/25.

Next in importance to me is where Saturn will be hanging out because The Karmic Lord, or Teacher, as the ringed planet is called, tends to put its host through a series of trials and tribulations. Though the tests are individually designed to help the student address and grow past their personal karma, Saturn’s extended stay can be a heavy burden, especially if the person is resistant to growth. Saturn has been in Scorpio since October 2012 and will remain there until December 2014. A bit of good news for all you Scorpions, there will be a lessening of pressure during the planet’s retrograde period this year from 3/2 through 7/20. Just keep in mind, the sooner you learn your lesson, the sooner you’ll get rewarded for your efforts.

Equal in influence to Saturn is Jupiter, who is known as The Great Benefactor (I call him the Fairy Godfather). Jupiter supports dreams and goals, particularly those involving one’s career. Jupiter has been in Cancer since last summer, but it’s been hampered by its retrograde position since November. The big guy goes direct again March 6th so Cancerians will have four and a half months to use Jupiter’s energy to achieve an important career goal. Then, on July 20, all that sparkling goodness shifts to Leo for a year. Pay attention moon babies—it’s been 12 years since you’ve had this kind of supportive energy! Make the most of it before it moves on.

I will keep you posted on the dates of the New Moons, Full Moons and eclipses in my monthly posts.

And now, back to numerology and what it means to you in the year ahead.

Very simply, numerology is the study of numbers and their connection to the human experience. Within this study, our lives are divided into nine-year cycles, with each year carrying a specific energy, advantage or challenge. One important note—each numerological year runs from birthday to birthday, not January to December. That said, the following will help you calculate your current and upcoming year numbers in order to glimpse what 2041 has in store for you.
The first step in utilizing numerology is to condense the number in question (regardless of how many digits it initially contains) down to a single digit between “1” and “9”. This is done using simple addition.
In order to see what the coming year has in store for you, you need to know what number year you are in at this time and what energy you will be moving into on your next birthday. To figure that out, the calculation is made using your last birthday.
For example, if your last birthday was November 5, 2013, the following would be the method of determining the energy or purpose of your current year:

A. Write down the last birth date in numerical form with plus signs in between each whole number:
11 + 5 + 2013
B. Each portion of the date must now be condensed to a single digit. The day is the 5th, which is already a single digit. To reduce the month and the year to single digits, add the individual digits together:
Month: 11 becomes 1 + 1 = 2
Year: 2 + 0 + 1 + 3 = 6

C. Now you have three single digits that need to be added together:
Month: 2
Day: 5
Year: 6
Adds up to 13

D. Since the total is a double-digit number, it still needs to be condensed to one:
13: 1 + 3 = 4

Thus, if your last birthday was November 5, 2013, you are currently in a “4” year and will be moving into a “5” energy next November.
The last step is to find out what your year number means in terms of what you can expect to be the focus of your life for that year.

1 – Beginning of a new 9-year cycle, fresh starts, leadership, new ideas or plans
2  – Relationship issues (for better or worse), duality, double duty, options between two things or people
3 – Playtime, free spiritedness, taking risks, gambling, good luck
4 – Hard, possibly tedious or exhausting work, no time to relax let alone play, but if used positively lays the foundation for something strong and lasting
5 – Changes, transitions, halfway point in a cycle or major project, fine-tuning and making adjustments in long-term plans
6 – Domestic peace or harmony, comfortable home environment, rest and recuperation
7 – Depending on previous responses to situations or behavior leading up to this year, either upheaval and confrontations regarding issues being ignored or positive spiritual connections and psychic expansion
8 – Rewards for work done, favors returned, reaping the harvest of seeds previously sown
9 – Endings, conclusions, cleaning, de-cluttering, making space (literally or figuratively) for a new cycle

Happy 2014! I hope yours is magickal and all your reads are Passionate.
Marilyn Campbell
http://www.marilyncampbell.com; FB: AuthorMarilynCampbell; TW: MarilynCampbel3

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