Blog Tour

Why the Lovings Matter and Why They Always Will

They chose each other over all comers, and that's what love is.

They chose each other over all comers, and that’s what love is.

It’s been a whole year since the last Loving Day party, and a lot has changed for me. I’m working on the sequel to my first book, Illicit Impulse, (because I still work slowly — that hasn’t changed at all), but I’ve sold a short story, and I’m building professional relationships along the way. I’m creating the set of stories I want to write and want to be known for, my brand, and as my blog header says, you can count on me for romance served hot, with a swirl.

As I’m finding my place as a writer in the world, I’m often asked why I chose interracial romances. (I’m also often called out for limiting interracial romance to black women and white men, when the Great Spectrum of Swirl is so much larger, but that’s another story.) Mia Zachary expressed much of my reason when I saw her at a presentation earlier this year. She said the protagonist is an avatar through which we enter the story. When I started reading romances, there was no avatar who looked like me, and while it’s hard to explain why that makes such a big difference, it’s hard to deny that it does in fact make a difference.

At a presentation for HarperImpulse’s Romance Festival, Cindy Gallop said this about women in business: “We cannot be what we cannot see.” The Lovings, whom we celebrate today, are actually a great example of that.

David Bowie and Iman celebrated their 23rd anniversary just recently.

David Bowie and Iman celebrated their 23rd anniversary just recently.

So many folks think that interracial marriage was illegal across this nation before the U.S. Supreme Court decided the case that bears their name. But that isn’t true. They’d been married very legally in Washington, D.C. before returning to Virginia, where the trouble started. What is true — in the late 1960s and today — is that lots of people who’d been quietly interested in pursuing interracial relationships look to them and to other real-life couples for the silent encouragement they provide without even knowing they’re doing it.

Somewhere out there, someone saw the Lovings, two extraordinarily ordinary people obviously in love with each other, and took comfort. After all, Richard and Mildred Loving weren’t chasing a fetish or swayed by stereotypes or indulging in sexual curiosity.

They fell in love. They got married. They returned home together and were awakened in their bedroom by the police. They were arrested when Mildred pointed at their marriage license. Because they were man and wife, the Lovings were breaking the law.

So they challenged the law. And the law changed.

Times have changed for those of us in interracial relationships (and they’re changing for those of us in same-sex

Tina Turner married Erwin Bach last year. By that time, they'd been together almost 30 years.

Tina Turner married Erwin Bach last year. By that time, they’d been together almost 30 years.

relationships). My stories aren’t built on such weighty stuff. But when I imagine my heroines and their men, I think of them the way I see Richard and Mildred. I write about people in love who will choose each other over all comers.

Not because of their color and not in spite of it. Not because he doesn’t see it or she doesn’t notice it or they don’t allow it to make a difference.

He’ll fall for her because of who she is. For this man, her color is just a part of who she is. How she lives and moves in the world as a black woman, whether she defines herself that way or merely identifies herself that way, is also a part of her. He loves her. And he’ll fight like hell to keep her.

That’s what my little corner of interracial romance is all about, and that’s why I celebrate Loving Day. It’s a reminder of what real love is made of and how it’s built to last.

So you wanna win something?

Here’s the link to the Loving Day Blog Hop giveaway over at Rafflecopter; head over for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card. Leave me a comment here, and I’ll pick one lucky soul to win a copy of Illicit Impulse and some snazzy swag.

Want to go on a Loving Day tour and find some terrific IR authors? Here’s the list of Loving Day Blog Hop participants. Stop by and discover some great reads!

And for the next stop on the hop, head on over to Stacy-Deanne‘s blog! Happy Loving Day!

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The Next, Next Big Thing: Taking the Hop to Jamaica

Last week, I kind of left you all high and dry with no blog post. I do feel bad about that. Things have just been out of control in real life lately. Wildly out of control. Sooner or later, I knew some innocent person would end up getting punished for it, and lo and behold, it turned out to be you.

Today, a whole day early, I’m going to make it up to you. My friend, author Denise Golinowski, tapped me last week for The Next Big Thing blog hop. Even though I didn’t thank her for it. See how patient everyone’s been with me? Anyway, the last time I did the hop, I gave you a little ten-question peek at my new release, ILLICIT IMPULSE. Today, I’m giving you a look at my next book.

  1. What’s the working title of your book? First question, and I’m stumped already. My first title for it was Fourth and Forever, but that was when the hero was a football player. I’ve since learned that he used to play baseball, so the title won’t work, even though I love it. Now I’m looking at something baseball-themed, something that still gets the idea across, so today’s title is Cleanup Man. Next week, it might be something else altogether.
  2. Where did the idea for the book come from? I can’t talk about this too much (aren’t you glad I’m doing this?) because the idea for this book came from my first book, and I’m pretty sure you haven’t all read the first book yet. Let me give you a fighting chance to do that. You don’t need to have read ILLICIT IMPULSE to enjoy this book, but if you’re planning to read ILLICIT IMPULSE, you’ll be happier if I keep some of these details to myself.
  3. What genre is your book in? It’s an interracial erotic romance.
  4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? I always have trouble with this. The two of them just look like the two of them, if you know what I mean. So I usually answer this question with Google. This time I started with “blond actors under 40.” Try that for a laugh and let me know how many blond actors you get. Then I ran across Chris Hemsworth. If he were to shave, he’d look like my hero. My heroine looks like Sanaa Lathan.
  5. What is the one-sentence synopsis for your book? A lifetime hasn’t been long enough for him to tell her he wants her – can he convince her with one week in paradise?
  6. Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency? My plan is to send it to Ellora’s Cave, once it’s finished, since that’s where the first book is.
  7. How long did it take you to finish the first draft of your manuscript? I’m still working on it. I think that’s why real life is coming after me with both hands. This is what happened the last time.
  8. What other books in your genre would you compare this story to? You know, I have trouble with this question, too; I try not to read hard in my genre while I’m writing. These days I’m reading mostly historical fiction after being converted by Deanna Raybourn, Tasha Alexander, and a bag full of free historical romances I won at the Virginia Festival of the Book. Here’s a little book pron. No, no, I insist; it’s the least I can do. Behold, the contents of my giveaway bag!book giveaway
  9. Who or what inspired you to write this book? The artsy answer to this question is that the hero wouldn’t leave me alone. And he wouldn’t, that’s the sort of guy he is. If you like something a little less woo-woo, my editor’s first question after I accepted the contract for the first book was, “Did you have a second book planned? Because if not, we’re going to have to look at this ending.” I didn’t think I’d ever finish the first book, so altering the ending – and potentially much of the rest of the story – was too much to bear. Far easier to write another book. Yeah, I like the artsy answer better, too.
  10. What else about the book might pique your reader’s interest? I take the hero and heroine to Jamaica for much of the story. My mother was born in Jamaica, and I’ve traveled there often to see my family. My Jamaica is local and authentic – I’ve never been to one of those all-inclusive resorts – and I hope my book does it justice.

That’s it, America! True to form, I’ve been too big a slack-ass to tap anyone else for this blog hop. Instead I’m going to use the space to thank my friend and genius critique partner Denise Golinowski. She bears so much of my slack-assitude with grace. I don’t even know how to thank her for all that.

Very Inspiring Blogger Award

very-inspiring-blogger-award

Anne Lange nominated me yesterday for the Very Inspiring Blogger award, which is all nice and shiny just above. Anne’s first book, WORTH THE RISK, is available right now from Etopia Press.

Of course, winning such an award comes with responsibilities as well. I’ve got to post the plaque (there it is, above), tell you all 7 things about myself and choose 15 more people to receive the award after me. I don’t know that I’ll get to 15 people tonight, but I promise you’ll get as much as I have to offer.

Seven Things About Alexa

1. I got an A+ in high school English for writing a racy sonnet about Verona. My teacher said he didn’t care about the content, so long as we got the form right. I bet he didn’t say that to the following year’s class.

2. I’m a total geek, especially with regard to Star Trek. I paid full theater price to see the most recent movie in IMAX. Three times. I don’t think I’ve paid full theater price to see another movie since, although I considered paying to see The Hobbit in IMAX just to see the long trailer for the next Star Trek movie.

3. Losing my job in November 2011 is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. Had I not lost that job, I wouldn’t have discovered bartending as an alternate career path. I also wouldn’t have finished my novel, ILLICIT IMPULSE, which is coming soon from Ellora’s Cave (plugplugplug).

4. If I could live anywhere in the world, I’d choose Shanghai. If you restricted me to living inside this country, I’d pick New York City.

5. I can probably recite Blazing Saddles.

6. If I could travel backward in time to anyplace in my past and live there forever, I’d choose my third year at the University of Virginia. High school was over, law school hadn’t happened yet, and just about everything was right with my world.

7. There are at least three knitting projects in progress at my house at any given time.

This has been fun! Many thanks to Anne for nominating me. I, in turn, nominate the following people:

Denise Golinowski

Nara Malone

Madeline Iva

Sofie Couch

Leah St. James

Tracey Livesay

Nancy Naigle

Tina Glasneck

Enjoy the trip! And don’t forget to sign the guest book.