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Thursday, June 8, 2017

The sisterhood of Songbird

Authors Iris Bolling, Piper Huguley, and Deborah Mello are powerhouse writers by themselves, but when they put their magic together, readers are treated to the phenomenon known as Songbird


Sparrow’s Song
Piper Huguley
In the hot summer of ‘68, recent graduate Sparrow Jones takes a job running the summer program at her family’s church hoping to save enough money to attend music school. Despite her mother’s objections, music is Sparrow’s ministry. Yet, as she throws herself into her work, she finds a different calling in little Carole and her stern father. Widower Master Sargent John Charles drops his little girl off at the church everyday, trusting them to take care his daughter while he works and maybe help her to regain her speech. When the feisty program director begins questioning his parenting skills, it takes all of his military disciplines to keep his temper and manners in check. Yet, the thought of her and the care she shows for his child makes the heart he thought he’d buried beat again. With the summer coming to an end, will Sparrow be able to fly away to her dreams of a music career or has her heart become entangled with a helpless little girl and her military father?
Lark St. Clair
Deborah Mello
Devastated by the death of her mother, Lark St. Clair must mend more than a broken heart. At odds with her own child, Lark is determined to honor the matriarch’s memory by repairing the rift between herself and her daughter, Dove. Revisiting history, the two embark on an emotional journey as Lark shares the story of finding herself through her music and discovering the love of her life with choir director, Martin Warren when love seemed elusive to her.
Dove’s Dream
Iris Bolling
Life should be a song worth singing. That’s what Dove Warren’s grandmother always instilled in her. With a voice to make grown men fall to their knees and the beauty to match, Dove has had her fill with singing. Until her grandmother shares a dream giving Dove the motivation to used her gift of music to spread the love.
Anthony Perry, a strong, caring man who lost his brothers to violence, vowed to give his mother at least one child who turned his back on the street life. As District Attorney of the City of Richmond, it never occurred to him that an angel falling into his arms could fill the empty recesses of his life.
Will Dove lose the man whose very presence fills her heart with song or will she have the chance to bring a dream of three generations to fruition?

Recently, I caught up with the dynamic trio and got the behind the scenes scoop on the birth of Songbird. 




1. How did you ladies come up with this idea? 

Iris: Hi Cheris. Thank you for inviting us to chat with you. The storyline came to me while listening to Regina Belle and JT Taylor singing all I Want is Forever. Regina’s voice is so rich I though it could only be inherited from previous generations. That’s when the idea of doing a generational story about a family of singers came to me. The idea of doing an historical that leads into a contemporary and a suspenseful end seemed interesting. I asked my Acquisition Manager, LaSheera Lee, to reach out to Piper Huguley to do the historical. Never thought she would do it, then freaked out when she said yes. For the second story, we wanted to make sure we had a sauciness in there and who better than Deborah Mello to bring what I call sassy-saucy to the story. She agreed. From that point we all went to our individual microphones and belted out a great story of mother-daughter love for each other and music.  

Piper: This is the first time I've heard of where Songbird came from. Brilliant!! And I was thrilled to be asked--trust and believe!
Deborah:  Iris Bolling was the braintrust behind Songbird. She presented the idea, invited me to participate and the rest, as they say, is history!

2. Will there be more stories like this coming from you ladies? 

Iris: It was wonderful working with Deborah and Piper. The outcome in the way the voices of each story blended was magical. I would like to.  

Piper:  Iris is the boss! 

Deborah:  I certainly hope so! This was a brilliant project and to be able to work with Iris and Piper was truly inspiring. I would do this again in a heartbeat!

3. This book is a hit with readers, how does that make you feel when "major" publishers are stepping away from black romance? 

Iris: Romance in any color is what binds us together. Love is magical. That’s why romance is so popular. Black romance cannot be ignored, or held back. Stories of love is going to surface whether it’s through large publishing house or not. To me, it gives us, authors of color, an opportunity to tell our stores, our way. No watered down version of what REAL BLACK LOVE is and can be, but the real deal on love in colors. 

Piper:  "Major" publishers who are opting to step away from Black romance are short term people and are not visionaries. I do not have the time or patience to deal with those who are thinking in the short-term. 

Deborah: For me, it just reaffirms what we have always known. There is a definite need for multicultural stories that reflect our experiences in a positive way. It's disheartening that "major" publishers refuse to put promotional dollars behind those stories, then claim they don't sell and are so easily able to walk away from our books alleging the numbers aren't there when indie authors continually prove them wrong.
4. What is on the horizon for you ladies next? 

Iris: As for books I have a new series The Dunning Family being released. The first book “Invested” will be released on June 27th, 2017. The Book of Timothy: Mirrors, which is a Lassiter book will be released in September and of course , a Christmas story in December. In January 2018 my detective series Reign On Crime will be released. As for film projects, we working on developing  Beverly Jenkins’, Deadly Sexy, Brenda Jackson’s Unfinished Business and possibly Redemption by Jacqueline Thomas.  

Piper:  I'm working on a contemporary women's fiction novel. I will also release a historical western at Christmas time in collaboration with other western historical authors. 

Deborah: Next up for me is the release of my next Stallion book, SWEET STALLION on September 1st. This is Naomi Stallion's story and I'm very excited about it. 
Then next year I will introduce a new series with Harlequin's Suspense line which introduces a Chicago police family dedicated to law enforcement. The family is headed by patriarch Jerome Black, the superintendent of police and his wife, federal court judge Judith Harmon-Black. The stories will follow sons Armstrong, Ellington, Parker, Davis and Mingus and daughters Simone and Vaughan, all seasoned veterans in the Chicago judicial system.


5. How can readers follow you online? 

Iris: My website is: www.irisbolling.net
        Twitter: https://twitter.com/Siriaustin

Piper:  Website: http:/piperhuguley.com
Facebook: Piper G Huguley
Twitter: @piperhuguley
Instagram:Huguleypiper

Deborah:  Visit me here!

Friday, June 2, 2017

Like my exes, live action DC movies just keep letting me down

Nobody wanted to love Wonder Woman more than me. As I'm writing this, I'm sipping iced tea from a Wonder Woman cup.

But DC's live action Wonder Woman just has me wondering why do I keep doing this to myself?!

Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, Supergirl and the Flash are my top super heroes. So, after watching that amazing 2009 Wonder Woman animated movie, I had high expectations for this new movie.

Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman saved Batman v. Superman. When she came to fight, she brought it.
I forgave  DC pretty quickly for not casting  Lynda Carter in this movie. I mean, you look at Ms. Carter and you see Wonder Woman.
But I digress. This movie was more woman than wonder. And it pissed me off. Wonder Woman is actually one of the most powerful women in any superhero universe. She would beat the hell out of Black Widow. Fight me. 
This Wonder Woman seemed immature and naive. She also seemed a little more impressed by a penis than an Amazon should've been. 

This Wonder Woman needed help to fight.
If the world could handle their business, then Wonder Woman could've stayed right there on Paradise Island with her mama. Give me a break. Name a male hero who had to have a squad of mortals to kick ass. Go ahead, name one.

I was not impressed. I wanted to be. I hoped to be. I'd read all the good reviews and I was ready. My heartaches. 
The origin story sucked to me. When did the Amazons start praising Zeus? 
Diana as a kid needed her ass whooped, princess or not. 
The female villain in this movie was wasted. 
But on a positive note, at least Wonder Woman fought in sensible shoes! 



Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The end of an era: Kimani Romance going away

It came in an email.
Dear Author.

Blah, blah, blah, these books just aren't selling.

Do, do, do,  we're ending the Kimani romance line in 2018.

Wow. No more African American romance stories. Of course they say they will open other lines up to the Kimani authors. Authors who are majority black and brown.

And should believe this, right?

I mean, Harlequin Desire has given us such culturally diverse books like:

And no, Sarah Anderson is not an author of color.
For a long time, all black characters could only be in Kimani books. Then this happened.



















And who can forget this gem?
 In this story, the black woman heroine doesn't think she's good enough for the white hero and then there is the black baby they find in the trash can. Ok. That is cultural diversity at it's best. . .uh-huh.


I've only written three books with Kimani and after seeing how this line was promoted and treated in the world of romance, I'm more angry than sad to see it go away.

Why are you mad?

I'm glad you asked. Let me explain:
1. Mainstream reviewers acted as if two black people falling in love, have money and sex was something that they could not relate to. But damnit, a fucking vampire falling in love with a blond virgin who could read minds was the most romantic thing in the universe. Newsflash: Vampires are not real. Black people exist! How do you think these little black people got here? Their mothers and fathers fell in love and had sex. That shit happens every day.

2. Bookstores put black romance in a separate section like that was cool. Romance is romance. You know why I didn't read romance for years? Because I got tired of stretching my imagination to turn white folks into black folks. If I had to do all of that to enjoy a story, then I might as well write my own. So, I did.
But when I was published and walked into the romance section to find my books: crickets.

In 2003 when I went looking for my first romance novel, I had to swim through books that had nothing to do with romance. So, bookstores didn't want to invite white people into the world of black love? Obviously not. If I walk into your bookstore and I don't see Beverly Jenkins or Brenda Jackson in your ROMANCE section, I'm out.


3. Many publishers don't try to market ethnic romance at all. I posted this on Facebook and I stand by every word:
Why can't publishers sell black romance? Short answer, they don't try. See, the problem is, too many publishers think that African American characters are like vampires, a niche. A plot twist. But what they haven't figured out for many decades is that love is love. Instead of focusing on the amazing stories written by authors who aren't white. They focused on the black part. Knowing that they have been complicit in scaring the majority of their readers into believing that black things are scary, but a shape shifter with four dicks and a demon's soul can really love you. That, white lady reader, you can relate to. But for some reason, we, the big publisher don't think you will understand people of color falling in love or having money. So, don't pretend you're sad you are dropping a line that you didn't promote. Don't act like everyone is going to have a chance to write for your money makers and we know what you were doing when all of a sudden you had non black writers writing about black characters. PS: Those stories really fell flat and bordered on offensive. But they made money, so that's all that counts, right? 
4. Black publishers sell out or screw the authors.
Point blank period.

5. And back to you reviewers. Seriously, Trashy bitches killed Kimani.
First of all, and yes, I'm clapping my hands, a book does not get a RITA nomination if it is an average book. Is it so hard for you to believe black people fall in love? But a demon with three dicks is awesome? Miss me with that bullshit. For whatever reason, other people think that you're reviews are the manna from heaven when it come to romance. Okay. That's stupid. But then again, millions of people voted for Donald Trump in this country.
Why don't you do what black readers had to do for years and imagine that the characters are white. Then maybe you'll like the story better.

Monday, April 3, 2017

And then she decided that she was enough

If you've been following along on my blog lately, you may have noticed I've gotten a little more personal that normal. The past two years have been a mess in portions of my life. Hell, my love life. My love life has been a B movie with an ending that pisses off everyone in the movie theatre.

Did this crap really happen? Are we supposed to believe this shit?

You'd think the romance writer would have it together in the love department. After all, I've seen real love. My parents and my siblings have been married for DECADES. But there's something that just doesn't work out for me when I meet Mr. Right Now. 
Even when you follow conventional wisdom and take it slow or if you jump in head over feet and move at the speed of light, the results are the same. Done-dada! Nothing. Ziltch. 

I have decided that my life is not one of the stories that I tell. (I used to love second chance stories, but in real life most mother@#ckers don't deserve a first chance.)
Even if you meet a dude at the book store, he probably can't read and is there because someone told him women in bookstores are easy.

Next thing is, I've decided I'm enough. If you can't handle me, the good, the bad and the crazy then at like Ludacris and move.


And finally, I'm taking the rest of the year to spend time doing what Cheris wants to do. Coffee drinking, traveling and writing!

And maybe buying some new electronics and no, not those! LOL!


Thursday, March 30, 2017

You've been duped! Specifically, I've been duped

I consider myself to be pretty smart, except when it comes to matters of the heart. I might lie about my age, sometimes my dress size but I don't play with people's emotions. Either I like you or I don't. And you will know either way. The fakest thing about me is my hair color.

So, I cram to understand why I keep taking a dude at face value. It's obvious that this generation of men are skilled at one thing. Not good sex. Not great communications. Not good food. These men are angry liars! They lie so well that they make fiction look autobiographical.

Did their mother's not love them as children? Are they trying to make the women in their lives pay for their mother issues? I'm going to go with yes.
It's been my experience that when you reach a certain age and you're still single, it seems as if you're subjected to broken men with a point to prove and lies to tell. Then these motherfuckers wonder why a broad gets an episode of Snapped.

Listen, I'm tired.
Today for instance, I get an Emoji text from a dude I haven't heard from in months. Can you use words. I'm a writer, I like words.
So this conversation led to this question, Miss me?
There was a time when I would've texted back some cutesy little, yes. Of course I miss you. But today was not the day. Again, months have passed since I've talked to you and we haven't gone out since I got free tickets to a basketball game on my birthday —last year. What the fuck am I supposed to miss? This is a mystery to me. Please call Scooby-Doo and his friends to give me a clue.

Then it's like, another damned Emoji and this stupid message: You must have a boo now.
So what if I do? What effort has you made to get in that position and why do you care? 
I'm tired. 
You know what, I don't even care anymore. A long time ago, he might have been Ralph Tresvant, but by the time I meet him his ass is coked up Bobby Brown.
I'm good. 
Stay over there. I got books to write.

Monday, March 27, 2017

I think you should let it burn!

I will admit it, I can be petty where my heart is involved. Just like tonight while I was spring cleaning and found a picture that was taken this winter. Me and Doo-Doo head. I had purple hair and a big smile. He had on a Dallas Cowboys hat and those damn dimples were popping. I cut the picture in half and burned his face.

This is a pattern with me. A) I make horrible decision when it comes to the opposite sex.
B) I have a photo album full of half pictures.




I would say, I'm going to do better,but at this point, I don't care.

March 1, I turned 40. Yes, I'm legit telling my age. The big 40 is a milestone for some people. When my sister turned 40, she had a huge party.
Many of my friends who have or are turning 40 this year had huge celebrations or are planning them.

What did my dramatic ass do? Looked at a list that I must have written in my 20s about what my life would look like at 40.
It was kind of depressing. . . That my goals were so small and traditional. I could slap the shit out of my 20 year old self.
1. Be married.
(Why? Had I gotten married, I'm sure I'd be divorced now or a favorite episode of Snapped for somebody)
2. Have a son.
(I have three. Thank you brother and sister)
3. Write a book.
(At least I wasn't totally crazy)
4. Be the editor of the Washington Post
(I should have worked harder on this goal)

I did make a video of me burning half of the picture, but my petty is only at 45 percent today. Not going to post it.

Operation dating for content, starts Now!