Tag: february

5×5: Celebrating Valentine’s Day with Black Romance Authors

Five authors. Five questions. One fight to the death. I’m kidding. We are in the business of uniting these five wonderful authors, not pitting them against one another.

It is my sincere pleasure to welcome you to the inaugural 5×5, a series in which we ask five authors of similar backgrounds five questions. With each installment, we’re changing up the topic and today we’re talking Valentine’s Day. That’s not all though, it being Black History Month, our romance authors are all authors of color and esteemed members of the Black Romance Authors Network.

We’re speaking to Synithia Williams, founder of B.R.A.N., and her friends and colleagues Sharina Harris, Cheris Hodges, Vanessa Riley, and Jacki Kelly. According to their page, BRAN was created as a place for Black Romance Authors to connect and collaborate in their writing and appreciation of romance novels, encouraging one another in the romance publishing industry. With this 5×5, we’ve got an amazing insight into what this does for them as writers, along with their thoughts on love, what it means to be a Black Author, and much more.

 

 

Why did you choose romance as your genre?

Synithia: I’ve read romance novels since I was in middle school. I love the genre and knowing the story will have a happy ending. I decided to write romance because I wanted to write stories about black people falling in love. There aren’t many portrayals of black couples having their happily ever after on television or in movies. I like to think I’m providing examples of stories about love, trust, healing, and forgiveness with black people.

Sharina: When I was a pre-teen, my mother’s friend gave me two big garbage bags full of romance novels and since that day, I was hooked. I quickly went to the library and stores to feed my addiction! However, I grew tired of reading about people who didn’t look like me. Then, I discovered Donna Hill, Carla Fredd, Francis Ray and Brenda Jackson! I so desperately wanted to grow up to be the intelligent, beautiful heroines these wonderful authors had written. One day I realized I wanted to write those heroines, too! Now it’s my mission to make my readers fall in love with my characters. But more importantly, I want people to feel empowered to find their happily ever after.

Cheris: Romance actually chose me. My parents, who have been married for over 50 years, were married on Christmas Eve. Talk about the ultimate love story. My father is a Vietnam Veteran and he proposed to my mother before he went into service. He married her while on medical leave after he was shot in the war. I lived their love story and I wanted to write about that kind of love. I also wanted to read about people who looked like me falling in love and getting a happily ever after. It’s not a far fetched idea to see Black people falling in love and being happy.

Jacki: I’m drawn to stories with happy endings, stories that don’t involve so much of what I hear and see in the news every day. When I read, I want to relax and escape into a world where the outcome is always positive. What better way to do that than romance? 

Vanessa: I believe that love is important as well as the promise that love survives everything. Romance is the literature of hope. I want to add hope to the world.

 

via GIPHY

 

What does being part of a community of authors of color like BRAN provide for you as an author? 

Synithia: I started the Black Romance Authors Network to give black romance writers a safe place to network, discuss the business of romance writing and share information. For me it’s been great to watch the members interact, branch off and start their own projects, and get together for meet ups. Writing can be lonely, and BRAN is a place where black romance authors can come together and realize they aren’t alone.

Sharina: BRAN is like your been there, done that sister, your wise auntie and your optimistic best friend rolled into one. As a black romance author there are so many things that we experience differently from our counterparts. Having this safe space to ask a spectrum of authors just about anything is super valuable. We brainstorm, we critique pitches, we motivate each other and celebrate each other’s success. And in industry in which black romance authors are often overlooked, underpaid and underappreciated, BRAN is vital.

Cheris: Being a part of BRAN allows me to interact with other writers who understand being a Black woman in the romance industry. There are things that we experience that other writers don’t  face. Also, BRAN is an amazing safe space where you are celebrated. Where you get that kick in the pants that you may need from time to time and a place where you can gain knowledge of the industry. What is most important about BRAN is the support. There is nothing like being in a group where people have your best interests at heart.

Jacki: It’s a place where I can share information or ask for help where I don’t feel judged or that doesn’t require a lot of situational explanation.

Vanessa: The sense of community in BRAN is so important. It can be an isolating life being a writer, with nothing but computer screens and characters chatting in your head. Having a place to get encouragement and sound advice is a blessing. Bran serves that purpose.

 

 

image via B.R.A.N. Facebook

 

What is your take on the fact that many romantic leads in novels and adaptations of those novels aren’t people of color? 

Synithia: It’s frustrating because I’d like to see more adaptations with people who look like me, but there are so many phenomenal writers creating romantic stories with people of color that I don’t have to only consume books with characters who don’t look like me. If Hollywood is too lazy to look at books by authors of colors for adaptation and continue to leave money on the table then that’s their loss.

Sharina: I just binged the documentary, They’ve Gotta Have Us that celebrates black cinema and boy do I have opinions and BIG feelings on this subject. Long story short, publishers need to acquire stories which are centered and who are written by people of color. In the Ripped Bodice State of Diversity in Romance report, 18 out of 20 publishers have 90% or more of their books written by white authors. It’s all systemic. We need more editors of color, marketing and sales etc. in the publishing industry. Editors are acquiring what is comfortable to them and what they think will sell. Films like the Black Panther has created another groundswell and thirst for content by black creators because 1: It made lots of money. 2: Black people were vocal about wanting diverse stories. In the past, Hollywood seemed to only focus on stories rooted in struggle and pain. The publishing industry feels so very slow. The ship is turning, but its taking a long time. I think publishers are starting to realize that there is a market and they can make a lot of money when they invest in us. I mean, The Atlantic reported a few years ago that the most likely person to read a book is a college-educated black woman so… yeah. Go figure.

Cheris: Representation matters. The sooner the industry starts seeing people of color as people and not other, the better. How none of the gate keepers learned from the success of Black Panther is baffling.

Jacki: It’s saddening. It’s almost as if our stories don’t matter. But there are so many writers of color that are putting our stories out there. We need more publishing houses or media moguls to recognize that there is a whole segment of people that want and needs stories about themselves, and movies about themselves and television program about themselves. And not just the stereotypical stories, because people of color fall in love too.

Vanessa: Romance is the language of possibilities. For a long time, people of color have been excluded from telling their stories. We are now at a point where people are seeing that diversity is something to embrace. The doors are being opened for more stories to be told with more characters of color. In the near future, my hope is that you’ll see more adaptations looking like real life. I write historical romance. I think as more learn of the hidden history of women and men of color having greater agency than slavery, of brothers and sisters being explorers, shrewd entrepreneurs, and leaders, you will see more sweeping portrayals of our ancestors.

 

 

What is your love language and does it influence how you write your characters?

Synithia: Hmm…my love language is quality time which does come through in my writing. I try to put my main characters together as much as I can and focus on the growth of their emotional connection.

Sharina: Yes! My love language is words of affirmation, which is entirely convenient for big black moments and the ah-ha, I-love-you moments.

Cheris: My love language is physical touch. This definitely influence how I write my characters. It gives me a chance to make a hug or the touch of their hands meaningful to what’s going on in their relationship.

Jacki: My love language is demonstrative. I want to be shown you love me by the things you do and say. I think in most of my books the characters do the same thing. Although I try to incorporate all five of the love languages, I do lean heavily on the physical side. 

Vanessa: My love language is “doing”. I know that love is being shown in the giving of time for someone. My characters are willing to sacrifice for the person they love. Big feat, small act—it doesn’t matter as long as they are “doing” in love.

 

If you could rewrite one classic romance novel with characters of color, which would it be and what would you do differently?

Synithia: I wouldn’t. They are what they are and since taking my last English class in college I don’t read the classics. (Sorry, not sorry) I’d much rather enjoy books by authors of color, past and present, or read a new take on an old idea than rewrite one. I’ve considered doing that, but always toss out the idea to focus on something new.

Sharina: I would love to do an afrofuturism version of The Princess Bride. I can have so much fun with the landscape. I think I would maybe set it in space and Westley is a space pirate. I’d also tweak the whole save the princess thing. I’d likely have them save each other. And my Buttercup isn’t going to take much of Wesley’s ordering her around—she’s going to be a beautiful badass! Important to note: I’d keep the black mask.

Cheris: There isn’t a classic romance novel I’d rewrite because I have too many of my own stories to tell. 

Jacki: Oh, this is a tough question. Because so many of the “classic romance novel” did not contain people of color, I did not read many of them. Of the few that I have read, I’d pick Romeo and Juliet, simply because I’d like the world to know that love in the black community is as passionate and important and all-consuming as what we see in that book. But of course, neither Romeo nor Juliet would die at the end. Their families would have a change of heart. 

Vanessa: I would do Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice with the Darcy character changed into an heiress from the Caribbean and the Elizabeth character, now cast as Edward, one of five sons of a crass country vicar. This movie would offer a diverse cast and a sweet reversal of fortunes. Nonetheless, I think we would still need a lake scene with the buffed Edward arising from the waters ala Colin Firth.

If you want to read more from these incredibly talented women, be sure to check out their websites below. We hope your TBR list has just gotten longer, steamier, and far more diverse.

 

Image via Bookstr

 

Synithia Williams

Cheris Hodges

Vanessa Riley

Jacki Kelly

Sharina Harris

 

Featured Image via Bookstr


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5 Fantasy Books Coming Out This Month

Fantasy literature was one of the main reasons that I read so voraciously as a child and even now, if we’re being totally honest. It’s also the reason why I began writing my own stories when time permitted.

Perhaps it’s because of my own personal attachment to the genre that I enjoy researching to find out what fantasy books are being released on a monthly basis.

Here are five fantasy books coming out this month.

 

1. “The empire of gold”

image via goodreads

 

The third book in S.A. Chakraborty‘s Daevabad trilogy, The Empire of Gold, is set for release this month. The book’s Goodreads page provides this excerpt for the novel, “Daevabad has fallen. After a brutal conquest stripped the city of its magic, Nahid leader Banu Manizheh and her resurrected commander, Dara, must try to repair their fraying alliance and stabilize a fractious, warring people. But the bloodletting and loss of his beloved Nahri have unleashed the worst demons of Dara’s dark past. To vanquish them, he must face some ugly truths about his history and put himself at the mercy of those he once considered enemies. Having narrowly escaped their murderous families and Daevabad’s deadly politics, Nahri and Ali, now safe in Cairo, face difficult choices of their own. While Nahri finds peace in the old rhythms and familiar comforts of her human home, she is haunted by the knowledge that the loved ones she left behind and the people who considered her a savior are at the mercy of a new tyrant. Ali, too, cannot help but look back, and is determined to return to rescue his city and the family that remains. Seeking support in his mother’s homeland, he discovers that his connection to the marid goes far deeper than expected and threatens not only his relationship with Nahri, but his very faith.”

2. “Cloak of Night”

image via goodreads

 

The second book in Evelyn Skye‘s Circle of Shadow Series, The Cloak of Night is set for release this week. The Goodreads page for this book provides the following description: “After the devastating Ceremony of Two Hundred Hearts, Sora, Daemon, Fairy, and Broomstick are truly alone in the fight to save their kingdom. Empress Aki is missing, and everyone else who could help them is a prisoner to the Dragon Prince’s mind control. At least Sora understands what they’re up against. Or so she believes, until she overhears the Dragon Prince bargaining with the god of war for immortality and learns that ryuu magic may be a more insidious danger than she realized. Suddenly, the stakes are higher and even more personal for Sora—not only must she stop a seemingly indestructible Prince Gin, but she must also unravel the secrets of ryuu magic before it is too late for nearly everyone she loves. And as Sora, Daemon, Fairy, and Broomstick face dangerous obstacles at every turn, the greatest challenge may be discovering who they truly are, and what, if anything, they are capable of.”

3. “The silvered serpents”

image via goodreads

 

You might be noticing a trend this month–there are quite a few sequels being released. The Silvered Serpents is the second book in Roshani Chokshi’s Gilded Wolves series. The book’s Goodreads page provides the following description: “Séverin and his team members might have successfully thwarted the Fallen House, but victory came at a terrible cost ― one that still haunts all of them. Desperate to make amends, Séverin pursues a dangerous lead to find a long lost artifact rumoured to grant its possessor the power of God. Their hunt lures them far from Paris, and into icy heart of Russia where crystalline ice animals stalk forgotten mansions, broken goddesses carry deadly secrets, and a string of unsolved murders makes the crew question whether an ancient myth is a myth after all. As hidden secrets come to the light and the ghosts of the past catch up to them, the crew will discover new dimensions of themselves. But what they find out may lead them down paths they never imagined.”

 

4. “Shorefall”

image via goodreads

Shorefallthe second book in Robert Jackson Bennet’s Founders series, it was teased on its Goodreads page with the following summary: “The upstart firm Foundryside is struggling to make it. Orso Igancio and his star employee, former thief Sancia Grado, are accomplishing brilliant things with scriving, the magical art of encoding sentience into everyday objects, but it’s not enough. The massive merchant houses of Tevanne won’t tolerate competition, and they’re willing to do anything to crush Foundryside. But even the merchant houses of Tevanne might have met their match. An immensely powerful and deadly entity has been resurrected in the shadows of Tevanne, one that’s not interested in wealth or trade routes: a hierophant, one of the ancient practitioners of scriving. And he has a great fascination for Foundryside, and its employees – especially Sancia.”

5. “The shadows between us”

image via goodreads

I’m definitely picking up a copy of this new release. Tricia Levenseller’s book The Shadows Between Us has a fascinating premise. The book’s Goodreads page states, “Alessandra is tired of being overlooked, but she has a plan to gain power:

“1) Woo the Shadow King.
2) Marry him.
3) Kill him and take his kingdom for herself.

“No one knows the extent of the freshly crowned Shadow King’s power. Some say he can command the shadows that swirl around him to do his bidding. Others say they speak to him, whispering the thoughts of his enemies. Regardless, Alessandra knows what she deserves, and she’s going to do everything within her power to get it. But Alessandra’s not the only one trying to kill the king. As attempts on his life are made, she finds herself trying to keep him alive long enough for him to make her his queen—all while struggling not to lose her heart. After all, who better for a Shadow King than a cunning, villainous queen?”

Featured image via Wallpaper Access

 

 


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Galentine’s Book Picks To Share With Your BFF

Valentine’s Day is the perfect day to spoil your significant other, but its also the perfect day to spoil your BFF! Everyone has their favorite things to do for Galentine’s Day, so why not add some awesome books into the mix? Here are five recommendations to share with your bestie!

 

Little Women- Louisa May Alcott

image via amazon

An undisputed classic, Little Women tells a story with incredibly strong women and timeless themes. A perfect addition to this Galentine’s Day!

Since You’ve been gone- Morgan matson

image via Goodreads

Since You’ve Been Gone tells the story of best friends Emily and Sloane as they make their way through an unconventional summer. If you have a best friend that constantly encourages you to be the best you can be, you’ll connect with this one.

 

The unexpected Everything- morgan matson

image via Goodreads

Clearly, we’re loving Morgan Matson this Galentine’s Day! The Unexpected Everything has it all: friendship, romance, ice cream, and dogs. Tons of dogs. What could be better? You’ll definitely enjoy reading about this quirky group of friends as they navigate their summer with some unexpected twists.

 

A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS- khaled hosseini

image via Goodreads

This heartwarming book tells the story of two young women, Mariam and Laila, as they share life experiences while living in Afghanistan. A Thousand Splendid Suns beautifully explores the precious nature of life and will definitely inspire you.

 

 

sisterhood of the traveling pants- ann Brashares

image via goodreads

Another classic here! The friendship between Lena, Carmen, Bridget, and Tibby is surely something extraordinary, and you’ll definitely want to share these special girls with your own group of besties. This book makes us wish we had a magical pair of jeans!

 

Featured image via parade 

 


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TV Adaptation of Chinese Science Fiction Novel ‘The Three-Body Problem’ Coming!

 

Exciting news for fans of science fiction literature! China’s biggest science fiction novel, The Three-Body Problemis being adapted for television according to The Verge! The science fiction epic novel has become a phenomenon in China and received international acclaim. Written by Liu Cixin, who has won the Galaxy Award nine times, the 2017 Locus Award, and the 2015 Huge Award. He has written numerous acclaimed science fiction books, including The Wandering Earth, Ball Lightningand also two sequels to The Three-Body Problem. A film adaptation of The Wandering Earth, released in February 2019, became the second highest grossing film in China in only two weeks!

 

Image via Wikipedia 

The Three-Body Problem was published in 2006 and begins in the backdrop of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. A dissident exile is sent to a remote research facility and makes first contact there with a hostile alien species known as Trisolarans. She learns the aliens are planning to take over Earth. The novel skips ahead to the modern day afterward, following a team of scientists preparing for the aliens arrival. The novels themes not only deal with the alien invasion but the nature of the universe itself.

The novel has been attempted to be adapted before, first as a short film by director Fanfan Zhang but was shelved due to quality issues. However, interest in Cixin’s work picked up again with the release of The Wandering Earth, especially after it was picked up and began streaming on Netflix. Chinese production company YooZoo Entertainment holds the rights to the series and is reportedly developing it for television. The series is planned to run as a 24 part series and is slated (unofficially) to begin shooting this September. While no further information is available at this time, it’s not hard to imagine that Netflix might stream the series as it did for The Wandering Earth. 

We’ll keep you updated as further information comes out. But are you excited to see this Chinese science fiction epic adapted for the television screen? Let us know in the comments!

 

 

Featured Image Via The Verge 

Scotland’s First Space Pilot Took Children’s Book With Him Into Space!

On February 22nd, 2019, the first Scottish person went into space. His name was David Mackay and he was inspired at an early age when he was given a book in his small village back in the 60s. According to the BBC he was given the book Exploring Space  as a reward for his good attendance in Sunday school in 1964. David Mackay revealed he was inspired by the book to become a pilot and eventually travel into space. His first dream was fulfilled by becoming a test pilot and eventually, the second was also completed when he became the Chief Pilot of Virgin Galactic.

 

 

A spaceship flies low over the Earth's atmosphere in the vacuum of space

Image Via BBC

Mackay joined the RAF in the 1990s and worked with them as a military/test pilot for sixteen years. After that, he flew an Airbus and Boeing 747 passenger craft before becoming Virgin Galactic’s Chief Pilot, helping to push the company forward to offer flights into space itself. When he took a ‘space plane’ out of Earth’s atmosphere, he guided it almost 56 miles above our planet. When he went up there, he took Exploring Space with him, showcasing the effect and great impact the book had on his life. Mackay’s journey is inspiring, showing the impact a book can have on you, no matter how big or small, and showcasing how one can follow their dreams from reading.

We hope to see Mackay continue to fly, journeying into the final frontier beyond the confines of Earth,  with his trusted childhood favorite by his side! Maybe someday, we’ll be flying on one of his space planes and journey upward on a galactic vacation!

Are there any books that inspired you at a young age? Tell us in the comments! Maybe you have a similar story to David Mackay.

 

 

Featured Image Via BBC