Kimani Romance, Arabesque, Sepia and New Spirit...Celebrating the Spirit of African-American Fiction.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Remembering the Best! by Wayne Jordan

An extract from a BLOG, I posted at

If I exclude a short period in my late teens, I’ve been a romance reader from the age of thirteen. In the more that almost thirty years of reading romance, I’ve discover several gems that I sometime revisit because of the impact they have had on my life as a individual who lives in a world that’s far from perfect. Below are two of my all time favorites and a few honorable mentions.

Brenda Jackson’s ONE SPECIAL MOMENT is, in my opinion, the author’s best work and still sits in its rightful place on “My Keeper Shelf”. It possesses all the hallmarks of Ms. Jackson’s work. Intense passion, sensual romance, intriguing main characters, and a fluency of prose that makes any Jackson’s romance a special reading experience.

AGAINST THE WIND by Gwynne Forster explores the nature of interracial relationships. A quote of a review I wrote of this book sums up my love for this masterpiece.

“Ms. Forster’s forté has always been the complex characters she creates. Ms. Forster delves deep into the minds of her protagonists, revealing every nuance of their personality, peeling every layer away until they stand before the reader exposed and vulnerable. In AGAINST THE WIND, it is Ms. Forster’s hero whose very soul is bared. There is something special about Jordan Saber—a man who’s gentle, understanding, and who knows what he wants in life—Leslie Collins.”

Of course, there are more I can add to this list, but space does not permit me to do this. I will, however, add a few honorable mentions.

Monica Jackson’s NEVER TO LATE TO LOVE, Beverley Jenkins’ INDIGO and Carmen Green’s DOCTOR, DOCTOR and Cheryl St. John’s THE TENDERFOOT BRIDE.

Just a few of my favorite romance novels. Want to share your favorites?

Wayne Jordan is the author of CAPTURE THE SUNRISE (November 2005, Kimani Arabesque)and EMBRACING THE MOONLIGHT (September 2007, Kimani Romance).

Monday, August 14, 2006

Never Say Never by Deirdre Savoy

Many moons ago when my first novel, SPELLBOUND, came out, someone asked me if I would ever venture into romantic suspense territory with my writing. "Oh, no," I said with confidence. Aside from a few Agatha Christie novels I'd been made to read in school, I wasn't much of a mystery fan. How was I supposed to handle the suspense part of a romantic suspense?

Well, I fell into loving mystery the same way I fell into loving romance: somebody gave me a book. In the case of romance, it was my best friend. In the case of mystery it was my mother. She'd been trying to get me to read mystery for years, probably to take my mind off reading (and writing) those "trashy romances." Just like with romance, it only took one book to get me hooked.

Still, it wasn't until I was contemplating my fifth novel, HOLDING OUT FOR A HERO, ironically the sequel to Spellbound, that my two interests merged. In this story, my hero and heroine (Adam and Samantha) must work to find out who killed Billy Prescott, the man who was both Adam's brother and Sam's former fiancee.

I really enjoyed writing that book. Although I went on to write more romance sans suspense, I knew I'd found my metier in romantic suspense. My last four books from Kimani and my other publisher have all been romantic suspense and I've loved writing every one of them. Last March I was honored to win the Emma Award for Favorite Romance Suspense.

There's been some talk on this blog about romance writers moving onto mainstream or other genres. As a writer, you have to follow where your muse takes you. Sometimes that means moving into different subgenres of romance or outside of it. I don't know where my writing will lead me next, but I hope to continue bringing readers books from my heart that will touch theirs.

Deirdre Savoy is the National Bestselling author of 12 books and 2 novellas. Her latest Kimani Press release is An Innocent Man ((August 2006), the final book in her Thorne/Ward series.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Turning Off The Brain

The one question I'm most often asked is "How do you....write, work and raise a child and still manage to put out two books a year?

The answer-I haven't quite learned how to turn off my brain. I've been writing since 1994 and I always thank God for the fact that I've written consistently for over 12 years now. Still, I wonder at times how healthy it is for me to consistently churn out story after story. By the time I signed with BET Books in 2002, I'd already completed upwards of 20 manuscripts. Sure, I wonder how healthy all that consistent writing is, but I do nothing to change my system. In my defense, I have managed at certain points to order myself not to write. It lasts about 3 weeks. Then, it's back to my college ruled notebooks and blue Papermate pens (I write everything in long-hand before typing). I feel that a part of me is not functioning properly if I'm not writing. I never leave home without my pens and notebooks regardless of whether I'll have the opportunity to jot down anything.

I take solace in the fact that many would agree that it's a blessing to have an abundance of ideas. Although various subjects never pan out to be more than a quick flash of creativity-others require me fleshing out characters and their subsequent dramas if only for my own benefit.

I began writing at a time when the African American market was still coming into its own. My romance shelf was-and still is-filled with the mainstream authors I credit with shaping my writing style. After graduating the HBCU Winston Salem State University in North Carolina, I had an increased sense of pride in my culture. That pride, transcended to my love of the romance genre. I desperately wanted to see black characters caught up in the midst of all the dramas I'd watched unfold and center around white heros and heroines. I began to write solely for the purpose of pleasing myself-filling a need that;at the time wasn't being met by the publications of the day. I suppose I was on a quest to create my own library.

Now, I've been blessed with the opportunity to share that library with so many readers. It's at times overwhelming, yet always welcomed.

Turning off my brain isn't a thing I plan to do any time soon.

AlTonya Washington is the author of 8 novels. Her present release "A Lover's Pretense" is the sequel to her popular January 2006 release "A Lover's Dream".
Join her Yahoo reading group: LoveAlTonya.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

“A Romantic for Life” by Maureen Smith

In recent conversations with fellow authors and readers, one theme that keeps emerging is the prevalence of romance authors crossing over into other genres. I’m sure we can all rattle off a list of romance novelists who have made the transition into writing mainstream fiction, authors who may never pen another romance novel again.

After one such conversation with another writer, I found myself reflecting on my current status as a romance author. With three novels published and two more scheduled for release this year, I feel privileged to be doing something I enjoy so much.

Why do I enjoy writing romance novels? I guess for the same reasons I enjoy reading them. I love to watch as two dynamic, headstrong people work through their issues and come to realize they’re meant for each other. I love “being there” when the moment of truth smacks them upside the head. And, yes, I’m a sucker for happily-ever-after endings. I just finished watching a movie that was billed as a romantic comedy, but at the end, the guy and girl wound up apart. Big downer.

Since I’m such a romanceaholic, several people have asked me if I’d ever consider writing a mainstream novel. As a matter of fact, I would. I have a ton of respect for romance authors who have successfully made this transition, whose voices captivate us no matter what genre they write in. Some of my favorite authors fall into this category.

So, if I ever ventured into the world of mainstream fiction, would I stop writing romance altogether? I’ve heard many authors say that writing mainstream fiction can be liberating, in that there are no formulas to follow. Hmm, very intriguing concept.

For those authors who balance romance and mainstream projects, how do you manage it? Do you feel the same way about romance that you did in those early “blushing bride” years? And for all of us who devour romance novels like Godiva chocolate, what keeps us coming back when, some would argue, there’s no new story under the sun? Are we, quite simply, romantics for life?
Maureen Smith

Sunday, July 16, 2006

"Readers Behaving Badly: Peeking" by Dara Girard

Do you peek? Do you look at the end of a book before you start reading or even after you’ve started reading just to make sure that everything ends up okay? I do. Sometimes. Some people think that peeking at the ending kills the surprise of a story. To me that depends. If you’re reading a romance novel it’s pretty much a given that the hero/heroine end up together.

But if a writer is very clever, the reader will not know everything. You’ll uncover the tone of the book (i.e. happy, sad, reflective etc…) but you still have to read the story to uncover all the other delicious surprises and turn of events that a character has to face.

I have gotten into the bad habit of reading the first and last line of books I pick up. It’s a dreadful habit I developed after being forced—excuse me—encouraged to dissect reading material in college English courses. (Uncover symbolism; what is the metaphorical structure the author used?; what is the cyclical property that the author is trying to reveal?).

Here’s my theory. Reading the end can’t kill a great story. A book is a sum of its parts: the beginning, middle and end. Its strength is its cohesive whole. Over dissection can kill the most intriguing story. I hated Great Expectations in high school because it took us 3 months to get through. That’s like watching a movie in fifteen minute intervals…enough already.

But let me not digress. Is peeking doing the author a disservice? Is it (let’s be honest) cheating? Depends on why you’re reading the book. If you’re reading it for the answer to a question (the beginning being the question; the end being the answer) then yes, it’s cheating. However, I think most people read for the middle, which is the “how.” How did a scullery maid become a princess? How did the investigator uncover the killer? How did two enemies fall in love?

It’s the same reason we’re fascinated by biographies. Although we know what happened (the person became a famous singer, died of an overdose, became a mechanic/surgeon) we are intrigued by how they got there (the harder the struggle, the more interested we become). And isn’t that why we read stories? To spend time with different characters, see them struggle with obstacles and see how they come out in the end?

I don’t peek at the ending of plot-driven novels (e.g. puzzle mysteries) because I’m reading for the “answer” [the end] not only the “how” [the middle]. However, I do tend to peek when I want to try reading a book by a new mainstream or experimental fiction author. I want to know if I’m going to spend my time with a character that might end up dead, in prison or on the brink of insanity.

That information won’t necessarily stop me from reading the book (Depends on how long it is, of course. A 600 page novel where everyone dies? Um no thanks) but I do want to know what to expect (will I feel happy or suicidal at the end?).

So there are my thoughts on peeking. A peek here and there won’t kill a well done story. But what do you think? Do you peek? Why or why not?

Dara Girard

Sunday, July 09, 2006

A Meeting In The Reading Room by Deborah Fletcher Mello

Yesterday was my bookstore day and the day before that was my excursion to the library. Libraries and bookstores are two of my favorite places to spend time. As I sat curled up on a very cushy arm chair in my local Barnes and Noble contemplating world politics and dryer lint (don’t ask), it dawned on me what an incredible clique book lovers belong to. We can pride ourselves on being a unique, diverse, eclectic organization. No matter where we might be in the world we can set our own agendas and meeting times, and there is no shortage of clubhouses, i.e. bookstores and libraries, for us to visit. Membership is free, requiring only one thing of us—a love for the written word. And the number of chapters to this affiliation is continually growing and thriving.

We’re branching off again with Kimani Press, the new home of Arabesque, Sepia, New Spirit and Kimani Romance. All of us, readers and writers alike, are excited about our future prospects. We know that with all great things, Kimani will prove itself to be a formidable asset for the Harlequin portfolio. Kimani authors have been challenged to provide exceptional, quality stories and readers can trust that we won’t disappoint. Our launch authors have already given us a taste of the wealth of talent to come, establishing a firm footing and setting a high standard for all of us to meet. With our heads and hands held high, those of us writing for Kimani have crossed our hearts and pledged to uphold that standard. We’ll collect our dues every time readers buy and read our books and our budget abounds when fans let us know that we have gotten it right again and again.

Membership is always open and automatically renewable. Although we don’t have a secret handshake yet, there is no need for a password. So, feel free to join us and definitely remember to invite a friend. Welcome to the Kimani family’s blog spot and the newest affiliation for all book lovers. There’s a meeting in a reading room near you. Won't you come join?
Deborah Fletcher Mello


Welcome to the Harlequin Kimani Authors' BLOG!!!

Each Sunday one of the Kimani Authors will post a thought-provoking blog to start your week. This week, Kimani Arabesque author, Deborah Fletcher Mello, gets the ball rolling. Of course, we look forward to reading your comments.