Freebie Friday

If you’re looking for a quick and steamy beach/weekend read, head over to Amazon and get my summer romance novella, Red Hot Rebound while it’s #FREE. Synopsis and purchase link below. Happy Reading.

Synopsis:

Summer’s about to heat up in more ways than one…

Elementary school teacher, Summer Wallace, has been looking forward to summertime…her favorite time of the year. Not only does she get a break from her sometimes unruly students, she’s looking forward to letting her hair down when she and her best friend and cousin, Dionne take their annual summer trip, this year to sizzling Miami- the fun in the sun capital of the world.

However, Summer’s excitement is short-lived after her boyfriend suddenly dumps her. Humiliated after she catches him with another woman, she contemplates skipping the trip to Miami in favor or staying home to drown her sorrows in ice cream and romance novels, but Dionne is not even trying to hear that, so she packs her bags and heads to The Magic City.

What promises to be her most depressing summer vacation ever takes an interesting turn after she visit’s the hotel spa and is given a nearly orgasmic rub-down by smooth-talking massage therapist, Mekhi, who is the epitome of dark chocolate sexiness. While Mekhi relieves Summer of her built up tension and stress, an immediate, undeniable sexual chemistry permeates the air in the room around them. Will Summer resist temptation or give in to her desires by engaging in a fling on the rebound with this sexy stranger?

 

 

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Literary Puppets: Is it worth it to allow self-published ebook publishers to pull the strings on your career?

Since I made the decision to follow my dream and become an author, I’ve been asked and advised to sign publishing deals with social media/ebook publishers. Two years ago, I got an email from a certain Urban Fiction publisher who said she’d come across my book and would like to sign me. At that point, I was very new to self-publishing (I’d only written and published my second book) but there was a part of me that enjoyed the process, even though I will admit it can be frustrating at times.

I spent many long nights and hours on Google- reading and doing research on as many self-publishing tips and articles I could find. I spent countless hours creating blogs, websites, and establishing connections with readers; and after doing all of that, I just wasn’t willing to give up all creative control to someone else. I immediately went to this publishers website to see their work. While she’s definitely made a name for herself, I knew that my writing style wasn’t going to fit in with the books and authors she had on her roster.My books do not fall under the Urban category. There are no thugs, gangstas, and bitches in my titles, which was what the majority of what I saw on her site were about. I very nicely declined her offer. I’ve never been a follower and even though this publisher has a bigger following than I do, I feel like with hard work, I can get where I want to be.

A lot of new authors see dollar signs when they scroll down their Facebook timelines and see all the fancy book covers from ebook publishers- who all claim to be better than any other publishing company- despite the fact that all of their covers are nearly identical. Add to that the fact that while many of these publishers posts how successful their company’s are, their success comes at the expense of the authors on their rosters, who usually don’t realize it right off. The idea of a publishing deal is fascinating to them, and that’s all they’re focused on. They don’t realize until it’s too late sometimes that the label (publisher) is more important than the product. It’s like how guys are with shoes- men will go out and spend their whole paychecks on a pair of Jordan’s, even though most of them are ugly and look exactly like the last one’s. To them, all that matter’s is the ‘Jordan’ symbol and label. That’s what their paying for. That’s what they get hype and excited about. It’s the same thing with books- most urban fiction readers buy books based on the label (publishing company) and couldn’t care less about the actual author. So, while the publisher is racking up the dollars when/if the book starts selling like hotcakes, the author is only seeing a small percentage of those earnings. Not only that, many are being told what to write, how to write, they don’t have a say so in the book cover design or even the graphics designer who does the cover. It’s similar to a new singer who’s just landed themselves a record deal- they go in the studio and sing the songs that the music execs/producers tell them to sing. I have heard many famous artists say that it took years and several albums down the line before they were given any type of creative control on their records. The music label owns them and makes all the decisions on everything from their songs, to their clothes, and even whether or not they can even get pregnant and start families.

Sorry, not sorry, I can’t give anybody that’s not doing a whole lot more than I am, that kind of control over my literary career. I have put in way too much time, effort, blood, sweat, and tears to just hand over the reins to someone else and become their literary puppet. Why would I let someone else make all the decisions about my stories, my ideas? I certainly understand why some new and self-published authors consider and give in to the idea- it’s two years in, and it’s still difficult trying to get readers to actually buy my books (and not want them for free) Marketing sometimes makes me want to throw my laptop across the room. I am constantly begging readers to leave reviews- which are what drive sales and attract new readers- although my pleas tend to go unanswered. It seems like no matter what I do or how good people tell me my books are, I’m still not where I want to be as an author. This reason- along with lack of know how- is why most authors give in to the allure/pressure of signing a publishing deal with smaller publishers. I even gave in to the temptation myself at one point about a year ago. Bad mistake. The ‘publisher’ I signed with kept pushing back the date of my book release..because she had personal issues. Although she’s very successful on her own, she didn’t seem too focused on her author’s books. When the release dates came and went, with no book released, she didn’t even contact me…I had to inbox her and ask what was up. While I understood her issues, books are a business, and the business side of me didn’t like being pushed to the back burner while she dealt with personal problems. That was money/potential money out of my pockets. I wasn’t liking how things were going, so I asked to be released from my deal before I even had one book published under her. Her response was, “Okay!” Just okay? I would hope that the person in charge of my career would have more to say than just ‘okay’ when I asked to be released from my contract. It was obvious that she didn’t care too much, which is all the  more reason why I’m glad I stuck to self-publishing my own books, the way I had been doing in the first place.

I won’t say that all smaller publishers are bad. I’m sure there are some good ones out there who really do have their author’s best interests at heart. I have yet to come across one, though. So, I think I’ll hold out and keep writing query letters and pray that one day, a big-time publisher will say, “Yes!”  I feel that in the end, all of my hard work, struggles, and frustrations will be worth it.

My Top Ten Favorite Books…so far

Anybody who really knows anything about me knows that I have always been a huge bookworm. From as early as when I was in the 6th grade, I was rarely seen without a book in my hand. I can’t count how many books I’ve read in my lifetime, but it’s a lot. So, I’ve decided to give honorable mention to ten of my favorite books, in no particular order.

**CONTAINS SPOILERS** So if you haven’t read any of these books, turn back now!!!

1. Sweet Valley Twins #3 The Haunted House

What young girl back in the late 80’s and early 90’s didn’t love the Wakefield twins, Elizabeth &Jessica. Liz was the nice, down to earth one, while Jessica was the desperate to be a popular mean girl one, so she eventually joined the Unicorn Club (a group of rich snobs) so she could accomplish just that. So this weird girl, Nora moves into a run down house with her grandparents, who everyone claimed were really creepy and practiced withcraft and all that jazz. Of course, Jess and her friends knew Nora must be a witch too. It’s a classic story of judging a book by it’s cover, only to find out that once you actually sit down and read a few pages, it’s really not that bad. (see what I did there) Anyway, I was sort of the weird, shy girl who lived with my grandparents back in those days, so maybe that’s why this book was always one of my favorite ones in the series.

2. Flowers In The Attic

Long before Lifetime got the bright idea to start remaking classic books into crappy tv movies, I was reading V.C. Andrews’ books. Keeping up with the theme that the books usually went by, this one was full of family drama, incest, romance, lies, betrayal, and murder. I’ll try to give a brief summary. You have a perfect family living the good life until the father dies in a tragic car accident. The now widowed mother takes her four children back home to live with her mama, who immediately seems to hate all of them. Come to find out, the mother, Corrine and her late husband, Chris Sr. were actually half-uncle and niece, which is why her mother hates her and the kids. She was like, “You nasty,” every time she looked at her daughter and her devil’s spawn children, as she called them. She locks them up in the attic to hide them from Corrine’s ill father. Corrine sets off to find a place for her and the kids, but finds love with another man instead, forgetting all about the fact that she left her four chirren at her evil mother’s house in the attic to fend for themselves. The oldest two kids who were pre-teens- Cathy and Chris Jr.- try to be strong for their 4 year old twins sister and brother, while also going through puberty and dealing with the awkwardness of their changing bodies, which leads to Chris hiding in the shadows watching Cathy bathe. His teenage hormones kick in and he decided that he wanted to do more than just watch her. Yes, it was sick and twisted, but we read it, and the other books that followed, anyway. I remember watching the movie that was made back in the 80’s before I read the book. I thought the movie was bad, but it was tame in comparison to the book that I read years later. Definitely one of the strangest books I’ve ever read.

3. The Autobiography of Malcolm X

Okay, I’m about to keep it real with you. Initially, I only read this book because back when I was a junior in high school- many, many, many years ago, I was a library aide. So, this guy that I was sort of crushing on came into the library one day and returned this book. He placed the book on the counter and walked away, leaving me both shocked and impressed. Why? Because he had sort of this bad boy thing about him, so I honestly was surprised that he was reading ANYTHING in the first place, let alone a book about Malcolm X. So, me being a young teenage girl who was hoping to catch this guys attention thought, “Hmm, maybe you should read this book, so when the two of you are in class together, you’ll be able to impress him with the fact that you’re about more than clothes and boys, like most teenage girls.” Yes, it was probably a silly reason to decide to read it, but the point is, I read it…before the movie was made where Denzel’s fine ass played Malcolm, I might add. People referred to Malcolm Little (a*k*a* Malcolm X) as the most dangerous man in America back in those days, but love him or hate him, the brother was deep and highly intelligent. When he learned that the man he looked up to, Elijah Muhammad, was a fraud and a phony, he began to regret that he’d become associated with him. Because many of the Nation of Islam’s members began looking to Malcolm as their leader, Muhammad began to see him as a threat. Malcolm eventually left the Nation of Islam and founded his own religious organization, which further put Muhammad in his feelings. He began calling Malcolm a hypocrite, especially after Malcolm met with Dr. King, a man he once resented because he didn’t view things the way The Nation of Islam did when it came to race relations. We all know that he was eventually assassinated in 1965. As a teenager reading this, I was amazed at all this man went through and accomplished in his lifetime. By the way, although nothing ever became of me and the guy, he did tell me a few years ago that he’d always had a crush on me in high school….now he tells me!!!!

4. The Coldest Winter Ever

As I started growing up, I made the painful decision one day that it was time for me to put down the Sweet Valley books and start reading more grown up books. This was one of the first Urban (hood) books I’d ever read. As we say now, this book gave me life, okay. The main character of the book was a girl names Winter Santiaga. Her family was hood rich- father was a successful drug dealer in Brooklyn, her mother was like a modern day Tina Knowles (you know, Beyonce’s mom) and Winter and her siblings always had the best of everything. But the unexpected happened…daddy got busted by the feds, then Mama Santiaga gets shot in the face by her husband’s enemies (hood ish), the police take everything they owned, and CPS comes for the kids. Winter decided that being an orphan wasn’t the business, so she bounced and went to stay with her aunt for a while, finding ways to make money in the streets …that is, until CPS finds her and takes her to live in a group home. Winter continues to get her hustle on, selling perfume, makeup, and everything else she was willing to part with as a means to make money so she can continue to stay fly in the stylish clothes she’d become accustomed to wearing. Unfortunately, she makes an enemy at the home by the name of Simone, her roommate/booster, who was caught stealing clothes to sell to Winter. Because Winter has always been about herself, she doesn’t try to help Simone get out of jail, so Simone puts a hit out on Winter (not really) but she does try to get someone to give her a good beat down. Winter finds out that Simone is coming for her head when she manages to get out of jail, and runs. Another girl in the home had suggested that Winter go to her friend’s house for help. The friend is Sister Souljah, one of those deep sisters who tries to help silly girls like Winter find their way in life. This book gave insight into the world of girls (I think people call them THOT’s now) who think that being beautiful is all they ever need to be to get though life. As in Winter’s case, this was far from the truth. She was beautiful, but she was selfish and less than smart. (in my Wendy Williams voice…how you doin’ Wendy) She treated the people who tried to help her life crap, and paid for it in the end.

5. The Million Dollar Divorce

A classic story of ‘You never miss your well, until your wellruns dry.’ You have the perfect couple, Nate & Monica, who are living happily ever after. Nate wants to start having babies immediately, while Monica wants to wait two or three years and enjoy her man without having kids constantly knocking on the door as they try to get their freak on. So they wait a few years, only to find that while they were waiting, Monica discovers that she is going through early menopause and can’t have kids now. If only she’d gotten pregnant a few years earlier…
So Nate starts resenting her for not being able to give him babies and wants to get rid of her, but he doesn’t want to have to pay her alimony, so he gets the bright idea to snatch some thug up off the streets named Lewis, cleans him up a little- so he’s more presentable- then hires him to seduce his wife so he can have evidence of her cheating, and he won’t have to pay up after the divorce **side-note, he’d been cheating his ass off with his secretary all along** But…the thug he hired actually catches feelings for Monica and has second thoughts about trying to set her up, and Monica also catches a love jones for Lewis as well. And in typical douchebag fashion, Nate suddenly decides that he doesn’t want to get rid of his wife after all…once he sees her twirling around the house like Mary Poppins after all the good sex she’s been having with Lewis. So then, Nate decided he needed to get Lewis out of the picture so he could get his woman back. It was drama on top of drama and good from the beginning to end.

6. Twilight: Book 1 of the Twilight Saga

I can only imagine the side-eye’s I’m getting right now. I’m a thirty-something year old mother of a 16 and 10 year old, and I’m seriously reading Twilight? Yes, I sure did. I hate all the silly names the public had given to fans of this series, but I’m one of them. I even made a Twilight scrapbook (no, I’m not lying..in my defense, I was really bored) I am a hopeless romantic, okay. And regardless of how many people criticize these books and movies, this was such a romantic love story. Edward was a vampire, but not the vampires like back in the Christopher Lee Dracula days. He’s one of these new age vampires- the kind who can walk freely among humans in the day time…as long as the sun is not shining. He and his vampire family have been doing well living amongst the humans, until Bella moves to town to live with her dad. Edward immediately falls for her, but he’s also torn with wanting to suck the life out of her any time he’s near her, because while he’s adapted to drinking animal blood rather than kill people, Bella makes him want to say, ‘To hell with all that, I want some real food.‘ Kind of like when I fool myself into eating healthy, but eventually I say, ‘Forget that give me some damn bacon!’ He is madly in love with the very thing that vampires usually wouldn’t hesitate to kill…a human. Aww! Not only that, he has to keep her safe from other vampires, who think Bella would make the perfect meal and couldn’t care less about Edward’s feelings for her. Like I said, I’m a hopeless romantic…don’t judge me!

7. G- Spot

I love a good old fashioned hood story, and this one didn’t disappoint. 19 year old Juicy (as far as I know that’s her government name) gets sold to this old pimp named G, who runs a club called the G-Spot.
**When you saw the title, you were thinking something sexual too, right? No? Okay, well I was** 
Anyway, Juicy can’t go anywhere or do anything unless her boyfriend/pimp approves. He gives her any and everything she wants, except money…and good sex. G is old enough to be her pawpaw, so needless to say, the sex is BORING!!!! But she knows if she dare tries to get her creep on, he’ll kill her and replace her before she can count to ten. Sexually frustrated, she deals with G because he also takes care of her mentally challenged brother, who she will do anything for, even allow herself to remain G’s hostage. At some point, G’s son, Gino comes to town to visit his father. Gino is sexy as hell, and Juicy starts feeling some type of way about him. She wants her some Gino, but she’s scared G will beat the living daylights out of her. Little did she know, G had already began to suspect her of getting some lovin’ on the side, and he decides to test her loyalty by sending her on a little run…with Gino. Being young and hot in the tail, Juicy can’t resist getting her a piece of G’s son, never knowing that G set the whole thing up. Once he finds out Juicy gave up the panties, he locks her in the Dungeon in the basement of the G-Spot and subjects her to horrible torture. He sends Gino away, only sparing his life because he’s his son. While in the Dungeon, G’s hateful ass tells Juicy that she has to perform a sexual act on her own brother, or else he was going to kill him. Luckily, Juicy’s brother manages to take G out before happens. The evil bastard dies, and Juicy manages to run like a bat out of hell out of the G-Spot and never looks back. Talk about a page-turner…Noire did her thing with this book.

8. Diary of a Stalker

A famous author and an obsessed fan equal one great story. The main character, Xavier obviously didn’t listen to Michael Jackson when he said, “People always told me be careful of what you do, and don’t go around breaking young girls’ hearts,” because that’s exactly what he does, and he pays the price for it. He was a successful author, with thousands of female fans just wishing he’d look their way and perform some of those freaky sex scenes that he writes about on them, and he loved all the attention he got. And despite the fact that he had a beautiful fiancee at the crib, he couldn’t resist hooking up with Pilar, one of his female fans. The sex was the bomb.com so he continues getting his freak on with her, never knowing that while it was just casual sex to him, Pilar was thinking something different. No, she didn’t want just a quick hit it and quit it, she wanted Xavier in her life until the end of time. Xavier quickly learned that you can’t jump into the bed with every pretty face you come across, because she just might be a crazy stalker who will make your life a living hell if you don’t do what she wants…

9. Remembering Whitney

I have read this book so many times, I’ve lost count, and I cry each time. Growing up, I was a HUGE Whitney Houston fan. I wanted to be like her in every way, especially when it came to singing. I’m sure I got on my family’s nerves, as I was always walking around the house TRYING to sing like Whitney. I still remember exactly where I was when I heard she’d passed away..at a Rascal Flatts concert that I’d let my sister drag me to (that’s another story for another day). As much as I wanted it to be just another social media rumor, unfortunately, it was true. I bought this book as soon as it came out and learned things I’d never known about my singing idol. Some were good, and some were not so good, but it didn’t take away from the amazing woman she was, and her faults didn’t make me look at her any differently. EVERYBODY had done things that we’re not proud of, and Whitney was no different. She was human, she loved a man who many felt wasn’t good enough for her, but she loved him. She lost her way, and began experimenting with drugs…the same thing that could happen to any one of us on any given day. The only difference was, she had to deal with her issues in front of millions of people, making the situation even worse, because public criticism and speculation is a bitch. It’s the people who know nothing about you, and are on the outside looking in, who always have so much to say about you, and no matter how beautiful and famous Whitney was, the things people said and thought about her, really hurt her deep down. R.I.P Whitney, we will always love you.

10. Faith Under Fire: Betrayed by a Thing Called Love

LaJoyce Brookshire tells a true story more shattering than any work of fiction. It’s her story. A memoir of survival against the odds and courage in the face of a troubled relationship and a terrifying illness. A chronicle of faith under fire. Someone let me borrow this book years ago and it’s one of those books that will have you talking back to the book like black folks like to talk to the movie screen. I can’t remember how many times I blurted out, “Oh hell nah!” while I was reading. Secrets, lies, the ultimate betrayal- it’s all here. Imagine meeting the man of your dreams, then come to find out, he had AIDS…and his family all knew he had it, and nobody ever thought to tell YOU…the woman he married. Honey, I was mad for the author, and she’s a better woman than me, because no way could I have handled the situation the way she did. She must have had some strong faith in God, because that was just dirty the way these people did her. This is the reason why if I ever get divorced, I’ll never get married again. You just don’t know who you’re dating anymore. Yes, we all have secrets, but this, IMO, is unforgivable.

J.L. Sapphire’s interview with LaShaunda Hoffman from SORMAG Blog

J.L. Sapphire was recently interviewed by SORMAG’s Blog. Find out what she had to say about her latest novel, the challenges of being an author, and more…

SORMAG: What inspired your book? 

J.L.S.: I like to read and try my hand at writing different genres. With all the racism and injustices that happens to Black people daily- such as unlawful arrests and/or killings while unarmed- I wondered what it must be like for couples who are of a different race to discuss issues such as these at home if/when they have different opinions about the situations and how hard it must be to be an interracial couple in a society that’s still very racist, even in 2016.

SORMAG: What would you like readers to take away from your book?

J.L.S.: To learn to agree to disagree when it comes to race. It’s certainly understandable for us to be mad and protest and speak out when another Black life is taken, but to realize that not everyone who’s white is out to get us. There are good and bad people in all races.

SORMAG: Which character did you have the most fun writing about?

J.L.S.: Naomi. Going into detail about her dating history, which led her to getting down with the swirl. Since I’ve also had a quite interesting dating history myself, it was easy to relate to her at times.

Click to read the rest of this interview….

 

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