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2016–The Year in Review

2016
From the loss of Bowie, Prince, Alan Rickman, and Carrie Fisher (among so many others) to the political disasters of Brexit and Trump, I think we can all admit that 2016 kind of sucked on a macro level. I had two procedures (one major) on my spine and continue to have chronic pain, but at least I’m (mostly) out of a wheelchair now.

However, it’s wasn’t all bad.

Recommended Reads

I wanted to read more than I did in 2016, but I still have some year end recommended reads that I’ve reviewed this year. I’ve joined the Goodreads 2017 Reading Challenge. Follow my progress and add me as a friend here.

  • I loved Lez Talk: A Collection of Black Lesbian Short Fiction, edited by S. Andrea Allen and Lauren Cherelle. It includes two stories by one of my favorite authors, K.A. Smith. Read my rave review here.
  • Forbidden by Beverly Jenkins was so amazing, I ran out and read a ton more of her books. There aren’t a ton of authors of color in mainstream romance, and she’s possibly the best of the best. Not only are her stories well plotted, she does her homework on the history as well. My review here.
  • Basically anything by Kait Gamble (I reviewed five of her books here, but I read even more) but if I had to pick a favorite, it would be Sins in the Sand. By the way, she just published a new book, Faking It, which I’ve bought and am looking forward to reading.
  • Basically anything by Alisha Rai (I three of reviewed of her books here, although I’ve read even more) but my favorite is Glutton for Pleasure.
  • Finally, one of my favorite reads of 2016 was Tamsin Flower’s serial novel, Alchemy XII. It opens on New Year’s Eve and continues month by month through December. (I was a beta reader for this series, and I loved every minute I spent with Harry and Olivia.)

Big Publication News

(Check out my Published Works page for a complete list of purchase links if Amazon Kindle isn’t available in your country)

 

Capturing the Moment

under-the-mistletoe

My first solo title, Capturing the Moment , and my first anthology, Coming Together: Under the Mistletoe were published and both have received great reviews!

 

Other Publication News

  • Intrepid Horizons, edited by Jessica Augustsson, included my story, Dumped. Blurb–A Unicorn’s (former) Virgin is left out as bait for a dragon, but things don’t go exactly as planned.
  • Rogues, edited by Delilah Devlin, included my story, Plunder.  Blurb–Sparks fly when the Caribbean’s most fearsome pirate falls under the spell of a sexy spitfire who’d rather send him to Davy Jones’s locker. I am working on a full-length novel version of this story, which will hopefully be published in 2018.
  • Coming Together Under the Mistletoe, edited by me, included two of my stories Kid Comet and an updated version of Baby it’s Hot Outside.
  • My essay An Expat Fourth of July was published by Long and Short Reviews.

 

Other Stuff I Wrote

  • Flash Fiction (for Wicked Wednesday) Dream or Nightmare
  • Flash Fiction (A Wicked Wednesday Top 3 story) Off Limits
  • Flash Fiction (for Wicked Wednesday) Keep the Shoes On
  • What I did for Lust, will be included in the upcoming anthology, Prompted.
  • Kid Comet, the third in my North Pole Chronicles series, was in Under the Mistletoe.
  • I further updated Baby it’s Hot Outside, was in Under the Mistletoe
  • For Love of Snow White was submitted
  • I expanded my first published story, Renewal, and submitted it
  • Lab Rats, was rejected (nbd, how publishing rolls)
  • Forbidden Territory was rejected (nbd, how publishing rolls)
  • I expanded Love is a Virus, and it was rejected (nbd, how publishing rolls)
  •  I wrote the first draft of the full length novel version of Plunder. (It sucks–all first drafts suck)

2017

My writing goals for 2017 are to finish Plunder and to write 5-10 short stories, including at least one more installment of the North Pole Chronicles.

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Recommended Read–Lez Talk: A Collection of Black Lesbian Short Fiction

Lez Talk

When I heard that one my favorite authors, K.A. Smith, was going to be in a new anthology, I couldn’t wait to read it. I pre-ordered Lez Talk, and was super excited when it appeared on my Kindle.

Lez Talk: A Collection of Black Lesbian Short Fiction is comprised of sixteen stories that defy easy classification. There are stories of sadness and pain, of love and sex, and even of magic. One of the editors, S. Andrea Allen writes in the introduction that

We say in our call for submissions: “We operated under the assumption that lesbian is not a dirty word.” At a time where a disavowal of any type of stable identity is at an all time high, it is important for us to focus on writing that celebrates Black lesbian identities and amplifies the diversity of Black lesbian experiences.

Allen and Cherelle did a standout job. The stories were ordered in a way that I wanted to keep reading, rather than feel fatigued. The variation in themes kept the anthology from being repetitive (which is always a danger). I finished the anthology last week, and I’ve been talking it up like crazy. As a bookworm, I know of no higher form of praise.

While I like most of the stories,  there were some standouts that deserve extra applause.

K.A. Smith has two stories in the anthology. Darker the Berry and Two Moons. In Darker the Berry, what looks like a supermarket pickup and casual sex turns out to be so much more complex than it first appears. I told K.A. that I would love to read a novel set in the Two Moons world because in such a short, lyrical piece, she does some intriguing world-building. K.A. is a member in my “never disappoints” club–I know that if I’m picking up an anthology or independent work by her, I will never be disappointed. (Click here for my review of Get At Me and Gina’s Do-Over).

S. Andrea Allen’s story, Pretty, resonated strongly for me. It begins “Everybody said she was pretty, for a fat girl.” I don’t think that there is a plus-sized woman who hasn’t heard that dig. I blinked back tears at the end of the story for that, too, was a moment I identified with. Her second story in the anthology, Epiphany, is the story of a love gone toxic. What do you do when you need to leave a relationship, but can’t see the way out? I walked away wanting to read more by Allen because in both stories, I became emotionally invested in her character’s stories and their outcomes.

Eternity Philops nearly broke my heart with The Other Side of Crazy. Delilah’s girlfriend Sam is cheating on her. Again. She waits for Sam to come home, but she doesn’t. Delilah ends up seeing Sam ]kissing a girl. The resolution of their story is gut-wrenching. Of all the stories in the anthology, this is the one that I’ve most revisited, emotionally, and continue to think about.

La Toya Hankins’s One More weaves the story of Toni’s first few decades of life. We bear witness to her first flickering crush in childhood that ends in shame, to her mom threatening to pull her financial support in college unless Toni renounces being gay, and the eve of her wedding. We see glimpses of the journey her family has taken on the road to accepting and celebrating Toni for who she is. Everyone except her mother. It hurts to be judged. It’s doubly painful when one’s mother–the person society tells us is supposed to love us no matter what–is the one doing the denying and shaming. Hankins deftly tells the story without allowing it to ever dip into melodrama, which it easily could have in the hands of a less skilled author. Bring tissues.

I would really love to see this become an annual anthology, or the first in a series.

Buy Links!

Amazon

Kobo

BLF Press

Review: Get At Me AND Gina’s Do-Over by K. A. Smith

K. A. Smith

One of my favorite parts of erotica is that the community is so supportive of one another.  We find our community online.  I met K. A. Smith sometime last year when she commented on my blog, and I checked out hers.  K.A. writes books that feature women of color.  Her blog regularly features reviews for books written by authors of color/ that feature characters of color.

Recently I had the opportunity to read two of her stories; Get At Me and Gina’s Do-Over.  I’m sad it’s taken me so long to get around to reading her stories, because I’m now definitely a fan of hers.

Get at me cover

There are lots of people on my #fictionalcrush list.  C.J. from K.A.’s novella  Get At Me has joined them.  In my pre-parent days I was a teacher, so characters who work with kids and genuinely adore them charm me. (See also my #fictionalcrush on Ann-Marie, the aspiring teacher in the Rainbow Connections series by Lynn Townsend.)  C.J. works at a Community Center before/after school program.  Her willing be goofy and pal around with the kids, and she’s very protective of the kids and the program.

The combination of C.J.’s bravado (and my god, the bravado is sexy) and her softer side are so well done.  I couldn’t help but be drawn in by her.

“You see that man?  She was checking me out.  Hard.”

“Butch, please. She was trying to figure you out.  As in, what is this little boy chattin’ to me about.”  Ricco rolled his eyes.

“Don’t hate.  Just cos I got the skin of a newborn baby, yo.  I’m too smooth and too good.  All the ladies go for this.” She but out into some funky dance moves, twisting and shaking her rump.  Her dance made Ricco laugh until he was wheezing and out of breath.

Fatima is a beautiful but remote local artist who’s been hired to paint murals at the community center.  When Fatima drops her sketchbook, C.J. finds an erotic drawing that gives her a glimpse behind the cool façade.

Fatima was hurt before, but even she can help but be drawn in by C.J.

She shook her head, more at herself than at C.J.  Turns out she liked the attention she was throwing her way.  But it didn’t change the fact that she had four murals to knock out in three days.  Fatima told herself to concentrate as she climbed a run higher on the ladder.  She took her eyes off her work for just another second to watch C.J. walk away.

I won’t spoil the story for you, but will tell you that  Get At Me was the sexiest story without explicit sex that I’ve read in a long time.  I was far more invested in C.J. and Fatima than I’ve been in most mainstream romances in a long time.

Buy Get At Me on Amazon 

Gina's Do-over cover

 Gina’s Do Over is a short story that takes place at the wedding of a friend/one time lover.

Standing there with Shonda and and the ghosts of orgasms past, I realised how amazing my life was.

I was going to tease the super hot sex, but I love the images that “ghosts of orgasms” brings to mind.

Told in a flashback, we see Gina’s relationship with the bride, and her moment of clarity that she’s a lesbian.  The story is at turns erotic and wistful, spicy and bittersweet.

Buy Gina’s Do-Over on Amazon