Hard Facts about Being an African American Romance Writer

I read an article today that resonates so well with my writing journey that I have to share it, vlog it, and just sit on it for a moment.

It’s a #Longread from the Guardian title “Fifty Shade of White: the long fight against racism in romance novels“. The writer of this piece, Lois Beckett, dives right into the past and current issues with romance writers of color; it’s hard to break through when the industry is slow to see that change it needs.

As it stands, when it comes to the Rita Award, one of the most prestigious awards in the romance industry given by RWA (Romance Writers of America), there has never been a black winner, like ever. The first official RWA meeting occurred Dec. 1980 – yep not one winner for the past 40 years. But to be honest, as a black woman, I’m not shocked. I grew up watching black romance books being separated from all the others to fall into an Urban Romance category. Segregation comes in many forms, and that my friend, is one of them. I remember never being able to find them, they were always tucked somewhere in the back, as if a white woman with a flowing dress falling off of her shoulders with a guy raising her leg was so much more sophisticated than a black woman’s eyes or lips.

It was then that I picked up my first Zane book and got lost between the pages. Her words reminded me that the black POV of love and lust were different but still viable for all that read it. Zane inspired me to write my own romance stories, using imagery and words that resonated with my generation and my friends. She gave me the courage to go about this writing journey in my own way.

Fast forward to now, as I continue to push my own voice through my writing and pitch an African American romance, women’s fiction, upmarket/commercial erotic fiction book (it may fall into to some other categories but I didn’t want to go overboard), I’m wondering if there will be a delay in understanding the worth and message behind my words. My romance looks and reads differently, but it feels as good as other romance stories. Can a predominately white industry recognize its value? It’s in Beckett’s article that I find some hope that it will. I just pray that it’s sooner than later…I’m so ready to take this passion on full-time.

Here’s an excerpt from Beckett’s article:

For all this diversity of genre, the romance industry itself has remained overwhelming white, as have the industry’s most prestigious awards ceremony, the Ritas, which are presented each year by the RWA. Just like the Oscars in film, a Rita award is the highest honour a romance author can receive, and winning can mean not only higher sales, but also lasting recognition from peers. And just like the Oscars, the Ritas have become the centre of controversy over unacknowledged racism and bias in the judging process.

Last year, however, many observers felt that this was sure to change. One of the standout novels of 2017 had been Alyssa Cole’s An Extraordinary Union, an interracial romance set during the civil war. The book had already won a number of awards and made multiple best-of-the-year lists.

When the Rita awards finalists were announced in March 2018, An Extraordinary Union was nowhere to be seen. A novel rated exceptional by critics had been not even been deemed as noteworthy by an anonymous judging panel of Cole’s fellow romance writers. The books that had beat Cole as finalists in the best short historical romance category were all by white women, all but one set in 19th-century Britain, featuring white women who fall in love with aristocrats. The heroes were, respectively, one “rogue”, two dukes, two lords and an earl.

What followed, on Twitter, was an outpouring of grief and frustration from black authors and other authors of colour, describing the racism they had faced again and again in the romance industry. They talked about white editors assuming black writers were aspiring authors, even after they had published dozens of books; about white authors getting up from a table at the annual conference when a black author came to sit down; about constant questions from editors and agents about whether black or Asian or Spanish-speaking characters could really be “relatable” enough.

Then, of course, there were the readers. “People say: ‘Well, I can’t relate,’” Jenkins told NPR a few years ago, after watching white readers simply walk past her table at a book signing. “You can relate to shapeshifters, you can relate to vampires, you can relate to werewolves, but you can’t relate to a story written by and about black Americans?”

Read the full article.

 

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Give Passion-fy for Valentine’s Day

Love moves mountains,

          Shakes the earth,

                    and explores galaxies.

While passion quiets doubts,

          Charges in with emotions,

                    to marry your mind with your body.

 

Soooo, it’s a good thing that passion-fy books are waiting for you to gift, read, or just or cuddle next to at night (or am I the only one who does that?) Let these passion-fy books be your icing for a perfect Valentine’s Day!

Choose your passion-fy:

Poetry-collection-book-Like-love-lust-by-author-dnc
Like. Love. Lust. is an emotional revelation from DNC that breathes truth into the other side of #relationshipgoals – the real journey. The poetic passion-fy storyline told through prose, sonnets, narratives and long-form stanzas, speak to the coruscant diamond of discovering each emotion, and battle with the complexities of their natural course, also known as human nature.
romance-erotica-book-untraditional-passionfy-by-author-dnc
Untraditional was derived from those moments in time where “what ifs” and “should I’s” live. To live untraditionally is to allow your desires to live outside the constraints of a conventional world. What would you do if your college or work crush approached you with a scintillating proposal? Or maybe the nice guy down the hall from your apartment finally notices you? What if you’re thrown into an unspeakably arousing scenario with a duo? What would you do?

New cover, new outlook, same sexy verbiage.

If you have been following my social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram) you might have noticed something different…yep my book cover.

Here are five reasons why I change my book cover:

  • Change for the better: As a businesswoman and a marketer, I understand that winter-2017-untraditional-cover_b_frontsometimes you have to adapt your strategy to get your product, i.e. my words, more visible to an ideal audience. FYI, keep reading to get a discount on this “change”.
  • Realism vs. animation: I like to think of myself as a creative being, and even though I love my original cover because it depicts the woman who I strive to be—quietly sexy and choosing to go my own unique way—I needed it to draw in new readers within the current contemporary/erotica genre. My reality check is that Passion-fy is in it’s grassroots phase, and will take time to catch on. And that’s okay too.
  • Standing out and not away: So yes, my cover was depicted from my own thought, which was untraditionally outside of the normal erotica theme. But I was okay with that until I noticed that maybe it was a tad too far from those who are used to seeing other books within the genre. I’ve received great feedback on the stories so I took a take a step back, but still up, on the cover.
  • Feedback from a big wig: They, as in Barnes & Noble, didn’t say they didn’t like my cover, but they did bring up “helping” with cover designs *wink wink*.
  • Gut feeling a.k.a. instinctual: The last and probably the most important reason is this; I already knew this was going to happen. This new cover was actually the mock up for the final illustration. So I think I already knew this day would come and here it is.

NEW VLOG ABOUT THE COVER CHANGE!

new-cover-vlog

Those are my reasons and I’m optimistic at this new look. My hope that this, you and anyone else who hasn’t picked up my book, will take a look at the cover + the reviews and go ahead and take a chance on a new, passionate author.

For those of you are prefer the new cover to the old, I’m giving a discount on the paperback version for a limited time. Use promo code 3RJC3YSM when you purchase through CreateSpace to save 20% on a newly wrapped piece of passion-fy. Just in time for the holidays!

Tell me what you think of the cover? Who wore it better: Cover A or Cover B. 

-DNC

Vloggers that Write – #Bookishpixie

Lately, I’ve been quietly obsessing over vlogging, not necessarily the act of doing them, but watching others. And for writers, we definitely have several great vloggers to watch.

Bookishpixie is my new YouTube boo—even though she has no clue who I am or that I’m watching like three of her videos a day—and she has some great content on her channel.

I’m sharing one of her videos that made me giggle this week because it is so true, at least for me. It’s entitled 5 Signs You’re a Writer.

P.S. If you have some time, rollick on over to my channel too, where I share my adventures in writing and my totally random moments a.k.a. “spur of the moments”.