Sweet Passion Series

The Way Home

The Way Home is an emotional and uplifting installment in Angela Benson’s delightful Sweet Passion series.

Class bigotry is alive and well in the small southern town of Gaines.  The residents of the affluent Rosemont section hold the less fortunate residents of the Dusttown section in disdain.  As a young girl from Dusttown in love with a boy from Rosemont, Marlena Rhodes experienced the pain that kind of bigotry inflicts.   While that bigotry destroyed her relationship with her first love, Winston Taylor, it made Marlena determined to prove the bigots of her hometown wrong.   When she comes back to town as an acclaimed attorney, Marlena finds things haven’t changed much, including her feelings for Winston and his for her.   Will new winds of bigotry and secrets from the past destroy their second chance at love, or will their love overcome their detractors, the biggest of whom is Winston’s mother.

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The Way Home

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The Nicest Guy in America


The Nicest Guy in America, another winning novel in Angela Benson’s delightful Sweet Passion series, takes a light-hearted but thoughtful look at what men and women really want in relationships.

Do women really want a nice guy?  Computer security specialist Reggie Stevens doesn’t think so.  He’s a nice guy who’s been dumped by several women and each woman left him for a man who treated her badly.   Do men really want a good woman?  Reporter Kimberla Washington doesn’t think so.  Her experience tells her that men really want a clone of the swimsuit models featured in Jet magazine.  Kimberla and Reggie find their beliefs and their hearts on a collision course when Kimberla’s magazine sponsors a Nicest Guy in America contest and Reggie finds himself as one of the finalists.

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The Nicest Guy in America

eBook and newly released Print versions available.  Buy the print edition and get the eBook for $1.99 at Amazon.

Friend and Lover

Friend and Lover is a charming novella in the Sweet Passion series. . .

Reed Lewis thinks his best friend, Paige Thomas, is engaged to the wrong man, so he devises a holiday ruse to make her see things his way.

Celebrate the season with a lighthearted holiday romp about two friends on the path to becoming so much more, and the grandmother who helps them get there.

“. . .a sham engagement between two longtime attorney friends leads to the real thing just in time for New Year’s Eve in Angela Benson’s funny and engaging Friend and Lover.” –Library Journal

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Friend and Lover

eBook and newly released Print versions available.  Buy the print edition and get the eBook for $0.99 at Amazon.

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Between the Lines

Matchmaking grandfathers work their magic in Between the Lines, a light-hearted and uplifting installment in Angela Benson’s delightful Sweet Passion series.

Businessman Jake Mason works hard and plays harder.  He’s living a playboy lifestyle in New York until his grandfather decides it’s time for him to settle down with a wife and children.

Alabama newspaperwoman Eleanor Sanders works so hard that she never finds time to play. Though her grandfather is pleased with her dedication to the family business, he decides it’s time she had some fun and romance in her life.

When Jake is sent to Alabama to broker a merger between his family’s media business and the Sanders’ family newspaper, the grandfathers bank on sparks flying and love blossoming between their beloved grandchildren.

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For All Time

For All Time is another emotional and uplifting installment in Angela Benson’s delightful Sweet Passion series.

Newlyweds Joshua and Gloria Martin are a middle-class professional couple, well on their way to achieving the American dream. When Josh loses his job, their plans for the future take a stark detour and their marriage faces its biggest challenge.

Tension mounts between the couple when Gloria is promoted to her dream job and Josh is still jobless. When Josh finally lands a good job in North Carolina, about 200 miles from their Atlanta home, Gloria is not prepared to leave her job to follow him.

Reluctantly, the couple embarks on a commuter marriage. As distance and competing work commitments begin to strain their relationship, Josh and Gloria face unexpected temptations and resentments. Will they be able to honor their vows or will outside winds destroy them?

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Bands of Gold

Angela Benson’s delightful Sweet Passion series started with the heartwarming, love story in Bands of Gold.

Christina’s ambition has taken her to the top of her profession.  She was taught from an early age that she’d have to work hard for everything she wanted. There would be no knights on white horses to solve her problems for her.

New employee Jackson Duncan makes her wonder if she’s sacrificed too much for her success.  Jackson knows a career is safer than a relationship—he has the broken heart to prove it—but something about Christina makes him want to wade back into the murky waters of romance.

Secrets from their pasts and conflicting hopes for their future are roadblocks the couple must navigate if they are to be as successful in love as they are in business.

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Second Chance Dad

CHRISTMAS BELLS, WEDDING BELLS?

Five months before Christmas, his old love gave to him…a child he never knew he had. But Dillon Bell had been betrayed once before by this woman; dare he believe Monique’s son was truly his?

Three months before Christmas, Dillon was embracing fatherhood, but now faced a different dilemma. For Monique had warmed his icy heart. Had him whistling Christmas carols and dreaming of Christmases yet to be…together.

But on the eve of Christmas, a night of joy and forgiveness, would Dillon find the strength to give him and Monique their second chance?

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A Family Wedding

What was a marriage of convenience?

Little Wendy Sanders needed a new mommy, and her hunky single dad, Kenny, could sure use a wife. So why not Wendy’s ‘Aunt’ Patsy Morgan, who gave good girl talk and dressed real cool? After all, Patsy was Kenny’s best buddy—practically family already.

Hurray! Kenny proposed. And Patsy devoted herself to motherhood. But Wendy was confused. Shouldn’t mommies and daddies share a bed? And shouldn’t they kiss each other all the time? Wendy hoped her mommy and daddy would hurry up and learn what even a kid could see: that they were made for each other and madly in love!

Cautious Women, Tempting Men Boxed Set (3 Books in 1)

Friend and Lover
Reed Lewis thinks his best friend, Paige Thomas, is engaged to the wrong man, so he devises a holiday ruse to make her see things his way. You’ll enjoy this lighthearted romp about two friends on the path to becoming so much more, and the grandmother who helps them along the way.

The Nicest Guy in America
Kimberla Washington and Reggie Stevens find their hearts on a collision course when Kimberla’s magazine sponsors a Nicest Guy in America contest and Reggie is one of the finalists.

The Way Home
Class bigotry and family secrets destroyed the young love of Winston Taylor and Marlena Rhodes. When they’re given a second chance at love, old demons threaten their future together.

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Cautious Women, Tempting Men

Cautious Women, Tempting Men is the name for the contemporary romance series featuring e-book versions my older Arabesque titles.  Each of the stories in Cautious Women, Tempting Men feature an accomplished woman who is ready and able to handle any challenge that life sends her way until she meets an equally accomplished man who engages her in a battle for her heart.  The first three books in the series are the novella, Friend and Lover, and the full-length novels, The Nicest Guy in America and The Way HomeBands of Gold, For All Time, and Between the Lines, coming this summer, will complete the series.

In Friend and Lover, Reed Lewis thinks his best friend, Paige Thomas, is engaged to the wrong man, so he (with a little help from his grandmother) devises a holiday ruse to make her see things his way.

In The Nicest Guy in America, reporter Kimberla Washington must find the winner of her magazine’s Nicest Guy in America contest.  Computer specialist Reggie Williams fits the bill but he’s more interested in Kimberla than any contest.

In The Way Home, attorney Marlena Rhodes returns to the hometown where she was never considered good enough for the only boy she ever loved, Winston Taylor. Will the class bigotry and family secrets that kept them apart as teenagers destroy their second chance for a future together?

Courageous Women, Tempting Men is on sale now at most online bookstores. Select here to shop.

Romance Pioneer Francis Ray

When I participated in the Soul Expressions tour last month I had a chance to catch up with some of the romance authors who started this journey about the time that I did. In celebration of the ground-breaking work they did for the African-American romance genre, I asked a few of them to participate in what I’m calling, Romance Pioneer Week. I asked each of them three questions and I’ll be sharing their responses over the next week or so. It looks like about five will participate. Note these are traditional romance authors, not Christian romance authors.

Next up, Francis Ray.

Francis Ray

http://www.francisray.com

Francis Ray is a native Texan and lives in Dallas. A graduate of Texas Woman’s University, she is a School Nurse Practitioner with the Dallas Independent School District. Ms. Ray’s titles consistently make bestseller’s lists such as Blackboard and Essence Magazine.. INCOGNITO, her sixth title, was the first made-for-TV movie for BET. She has written thirty-one titles to date. Awards include Romantic Times Career Achievement, EMMA, The Golden Pen, and The Atlantic Choice.

How long have you been published and what’s your key to longevity in the publishing business?

My first book, FALLEN ANGEL, was published in 1992 by Odyssey Books. If there is a key, I think it is writing consistently and writing what you love. Publishing can go through phases of what’s hot. If a writer isn’t careful he or she will try to follow the trend instead of their heart. But a trend can also become a staple of publishing. A writer thought of something “different” and the reader embraced it. And that brings me to what I believe is THE most important factor in longevity, loyal readers who love your work and aren’t shy about letting others know.

A lot of your books are series or are connected in some way. Tell us a little about the series you’ve written and why you write them.

I honestly didn’t start out to write a series. Readers wanted to know about Matt Taggart when he appeared in FOREVER YOURS. His story became ONLY HERS. Daniel Falcon took off his hat in ONLY HERS and set women’s hearts aflutter and thus HEART OF THE FALCON was written. Daniel’s sister tried to break up his wedding and therefore had to find her own happiness in BREAK EVERY RULE. Dominique and Daniel’s cousin, Luke Grayson, was noticeably displeases at her wedding. It was then, and only then, that I decided to do a series, The Graysons of New Mexico about a match-making mother marrying off all of her children from the oldest, Luke, to the youngest.

Reader response was fantastic. They wanted to know what happened to the other characters they’d met in the five books – UNTIL THERE WAS YOU, YOU AND NO OTHER, DREAMING OF YOU, IRRESISTIBLE YOU, ONLY YOU – in the Grayson series. Since I wasn’t ready to leave the series, Grayson Friends Series is the result. Book One, THE WAY YOU LOVE ME, is scheduled for release August 26, 2008. Six more books are planned. Book Two is NOBODY BUT YOU which is slated for release April 2009.

What do you envision for yourself and the romance industry over the next five to ten years?

I truly hope there is more diversity in the buying habits of readers. A good book is a good book regardless of the hue of the character’s skin or language. I don’t know what will be in vogue, but I do believe romance in its traditional form will always find a place in reader’s heart and on their bookshelf.

Thanks, Francis!

Romance Pioneer Beverly Jenkins

When I participated in the Soul Expressions tour last month I had a chance to catch up with some of the romance authors who started this journey about the time that I did. In celebration of the ground-breaking work they did for the African-American romance genre, I asked a few of them to participate in what I’m calling, Romance Pioneer Week. I asked each of them three questions and I’ll be sharing their responses over the next week or so. It looks like about five will participate. Note these are traditional romance authors, not Christian romance authors. 

Next up, Beverly Jenkins.

Beverly Jenkins

http://www.beverlyjenkins.net

Beverly Jenkins has written sixteen books to date and has received numerous awards for her works, including: the Detroit Free Press Book of the Year, three Waldenbooks Best Sellers Awards; two Career Achievement Awards from Romantic Times Magazine; a Golden Pen Award from the Black Writer’s Guild, and in 1999, Ms Jenkins was voted one of the Top Fifty Favorite African-American writers of the 20th Century by AABLC, the nation’s largest on-line African-American book club. In May of 2002, Ms. Jenkins published her first historical novel for young adults, titled: Belle and the Beau. Her second YA, Josephine and the Soldier followed in 2003. 

How long have you been published and what’s your key to longevity in the publishing business?

My first novel Nightsong was published in 1994. I attribute my longevity to giving readers my best effort with each book.

Angela: I attribute Beverly’s longevity to the details of African-American history that permeate her historicals.  She’s known as a very sexy writer, but she’s also known for writing books that teach you something about history that’s not found in your typical history book.  If that intrigues you but the sexy turns you off, then try her young adult titles: Josephine and the Soldier and Belle and the Beau.  IMO, they’re the same as the adult historicals, but without the sexy. These books are being re-issued by Kimani TRU next year as Josephine and Belle, respectively. 

A lot of your books are series or are connected in some way. Tell us a little about the series you’ve written and why you write them.

My books are not series in the real sense. Some of my secondary characters have gone on to get their own books, but they can function as stand alone titles. Topaz brought forth Always and Forever, and A Chance at Love. Taming Jessi Rose brought forth Something Like Love which brought about Wild Sweet Love which is also related to Nightsong. It can get complicated. LOL Indigo is related to Through the Storm and Winds of the Storm with descendants who show up in one my romantis suspense title Deadly Sexy. My historical characters live on through their descendants in my 5 titles of romantic suspense. Like I said – complicated.

What do you envision for yourself and the romance industry over the next five to ten years?

For myself I hope to keep writing. For the industry, continued diversity in the stories that are marketed.

Thanks, Beverly!

Romance Pioneer Donna Hill

When I participated in the Soul Expressions tour last month I had a chance to catch up with some of the romance authors who started this journey about the time that I did. In celebration of the ground-breaking work they did for the African-American romance genre, I asked a few of them to participate in what I’m calling, Romance Pioneer Week. I asked each of them three questions and I’ll be sharing their responses over the next week or so. It looks like about five will participate. Note these are traditional romance authors, not Christian romance authors. 

First up, Donna Hill.

Donna Hill

http://www.donnahill.com

Donna Hill began her career in 1987 and she has more than fifty published titles to her credit. Three of her novels have been adapted for television. She has been featured in Essence, the New York Daily News, USA Today, Today’s Black Woman, and Black Enterprise among many others.

How long have you been published and what’s your key to longevity in the publishing business?

I’ve been published in novel form since 1990. My first short story was published in 1987. Wow, a pretty long time! LOL My first novel was Rooms of the Heart which has been re-issued several times. Hmmm, key to longevity? I would have to say being consistent. Delivering story ideas and concepts to editors that liked what I had to offer. Not pinning myself down to one house, and writing to an audience that enjoys what I do.

A lot of your books are series or are connected in some way. Tell us a little about the series you’ve written and why you write them.

Well, I’ve only recently gotten into writing series intentionally. Earlier in my romance career I had two books that connected: Scandalous and A Scandalous Affair. Writing the follow-up was done mostly because of reader demand and the fact that I really liked the characters and felt that they would be perfect to bring back for A Scandalous Affair.

The next time I stumbled into writing follow up books (and I call them follow-ups because they only reintroduce the same characters not a central theme and they were written years apart) Those books are A Private Affair, Pieces of Dreams and Through the Fire. Again, it was reader demand wanting to know what happened to Quentin Parker aka Q. LOL.

Angela: I was one of those readers. I think I stopped talking to Donnna for a couple of years because of something that happened with Q. 🙂  I finally got over it, but it served as a powerful reminder of the close ties readers form with series characters.

The first time I intended on a series was my Pause for Men series which was four books. They all came out last year and did so well I was asked to another series. This one is The Ladies Cartel. The storyline is about three very ordinary woman who have been recruited into a secret agency where they are undercover operatives. And no one, especially their love interests must know what they do. Their friends and family think that the kits that they have is to sell bath and body products! So far I’ve finished writing 3 of the 5 books for the series. Sex & Lies came out in Feb. Seduction and Lies will be out in November and Temptation and Lies will be out in February.

Generally when I sit down to write a book and I put “the end” that’s it for me. I was never a series writer but readers love series. They love getting involved with the characters and following them and their kids and their grandkids! LOL. And our goal is to please our readers.

What do you envision for yourself and the romance industry over the next five to ten years?

My biggest hope is that one day when I pick up RT Mag and others that review our work, our headline won’t have to read “African American” and that everyone will enjoy our work based on the content of the story not the color of the characters.

Thanks, Donna!

Large Print Extravanga!

Thorndike Press brings you large print editions of my first three books, written long before I started writing Christian fiction. Look for them in your local library.

Bands of Gold
December 2006
First published: November 1994
Bands of Gold

For All Time
January 2007
First published: August 1995
For All Time

Between the Lines
March 2007
First published: May 1996
Between the Lines

Taking Back the Past – BTL

For All TimeFinally, another Taking Back the Past post! We’re now up to Between the Lines, my third book for Arabesque and the third entry in Harlequin’s recently released 3-in-1 re-issue, Sweet Passion. Between the Lines marks two significant events in my writing history: acquiring an agent and doing research.

As I told you in an earlier post, I negotiated (or, didn’t negotiate) my first tw0-book contract with Arabesque. I don’t quite remember how exactly when I acquired an agent, but I do remember that the agent negotiated the contract for my second two-book contract. I learned a couple of things from this experience. First, having an agent doesn’t necesssarily mean that you’ll get more money. I remember the disappointment I felt when my agent came back with an offer from the publisher that was not very different from the offer for the first contract. I assumed that I had paid my dues with that first contract, and now as a published author, I would be compensated accordingly. Not so.

Conventional wisdom puts the average advance for a new author at $5000. Quite a few make less and many make more. This was true in 1994 when I sold my first book and it’s still true today. I won’t tell you where I was, but by the tone of this post, I’m sure you can guess.

I know some of you are crying about now because you had dreams of getting rich, quitting your day job and buying a new house from the advance for selling your first book. All I can say is, “Wake up!” Now, a lot of writers do a lot better than I did. I started out writing romance, genre fiction, where big, fat advances are not very common. As I recommended in an earlier post, you really need to sell well with the first book because that book determines the floor (and in many ways, the ceiling) for subsequent advances. For example, if you start out with a $5000 advance, it’s highly unlikely that your next advance is going to be $50,ooo. Not impossible, but highly unlikely.

But there is the reality of publishing. $5000 may be selling well for you and your book. You only know that you’ve gotten the best deal that you can get if you shop your book around. Good agents know the price that a book should bring and they fight for that price. Typically, an advance is based on the expected first year sales of the book. So, if publishers expect a book to make $5000 in the first year, then you get a $5000 advance. Some publishers, like Harlequin, tend to pay a standard advance rate but their first year earnings typically exceed that amount. At least, that’s been my experience.

So how do you figure out how much you’ll make on a book? If your book is a mass market paperback (those books you see in the racks at the grocery story), it probably sells for $6.99. Your contract will specify a royalty rate of 6 or 8 percent; I’m not sure which is standard these days. That means that for each book that sells, you get 56 cents (8%) or 42 cents (6%). At the 8 percent rate, you’ll have to sell around 10,000 books to make $5000.

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Taking Back the Past – FAT

For All TimeFinally, I’m back with the Taking Back the Past series. This week’s topic is For All Time, my second book, which is also the second story included in the upcoming Harlequin 3-in-1 re-issue, Sweet Passion. With this book, I learned some tough, but valuable, publishing lessons.

For All Time was the second book of the two-book contract that I had with Arabesque Books. I got the idea from my cousin who had recently lost her job. For All Time tells the story of a young middle-class couple whose marriage is challenged when the husband loses his job at the same time that the wife gets a promotion on hers. I had a lot of fun writing this story and I was excited about it being even better than my first book, Bands of Gold. Hey, I had a writing career to build and I was serious about building it.

Then reality publishing happened. The general process from manuscript to book takes a few stages. First, the author completes the mansuscript and sends it to the editor for approval. The editor reads the manscript and issues the author a revision letter with questions, comments and recommendations. I was fortunate in that my editorial letters always resulted in a better, tighter, stronger story. So while I can’t say that I liked getting them, I can say that I appreciated them.

So the author receives the letter, reviews it and, after considering how to address all the listed items, makes a call to editor to clarify any concerns and to let the editor know how she plans to handle the items outlined in the letter. Note that the writer is not obliged to do everything the editor requested, but she is obliged to consider each item. During this phone call, the editor and author go back and forth a bit and finally agree, in broad terms, on how the manuscript will change or not change.

The author then makes the changes, and any other changes she thinks will make the story stronger. Many authors, me included, appreciate this final opportunity to make changes in the manuscript and use it as a opportunity to improve the story. Once the changes are completed, the author sends the revised manuscript back to the editor. If all goes well, the author gets a phone call from the editor a few weeks later saying that the manuscript is accepted and any associated advance money is being sent to the author. At this point, the author celebrates.

A few months later, the author receives galleys in mail. Galleys are book pages printed on standard copy/printer paper. The author’s job is to read the galleys to make sure that no errors were introduced into the manuscript during the typesetting process. Typically, the author gets a few days to do this. If everything in the publication process is working well, the author may have a few typos to correct and a few missing words to insert. If things are not working well, the author may realize that book that is being published is quite different from the book she submitted. The latter is what happened to me with For All Time.

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Taking Back the Past – BoG

Sweet PassionOkay, we’re back on the historical journey of my writing life from my beginnings as a general market romance novelist to my current career as a Christian fiction novelist. Thanks for taking a step back in time with me. Today, we’re going waaay back to when I sold my first book. In last week’s post, I told you about my early fifth grade writing experience and that fateful trip to a Romantic Times convention in Savannah (GA) much later where I decided to embark on writing again. This post picks up with my return home after that conference.

Well, writing a book wasn’t as easy as it seemed when I was listening to those three women at the conference. I realized I didn’t know how to get started. The smartest thing I did at that point was join Georgia Romance Writers, the Atlanta Chapter of Romance Writers of America. I don’t remember now how I learned about the organization but it must have been at the convention. Anyway, I attended my first meeting, where there was only one other black person, Carla Fredd, also a beginning writer attending her first meeting. I believe it was destiny; you’ll have to ask Carla what she thinks.

Sometime later Carla and I, along with two other GRW members, Bridget Anderson and Ami V., formed a critique group. I think we met once a week, but again I’m relying on memory here. I distinctly remember that because I working full-time, I wrote on the weekends. I didn’t allow myself to leave the house on Saturday morning until I’d written three chapters, which for me was three chapters. I remember being motivated do those three chapters so that I wouldn’t have to attend the upcoming critique group meeting empty-handed.

When I think about our early critique meetings, I have to laugh. We were excellent examples of the blind leading the blind. We had no clue what we were doing. We figured out point-of-view together; we struggled together with active and passive voice. Mostly, we supported and encouraged each other. That was the upside to being in a critique group. The downside was that sometimes our comments went too far. We’d begin to change, or want to change, each other’s stories. I think I was first one in the group to make a sale because I was the first to figure out that comments from others were merely points to consider, not requests that had to be heeded.

It took me about a year to write that first book, which I titled Dreams. I started querying agents and publishers after I had a good first three chapters and a synopsis, figuring that any interest would be a great motivator to finish the book. I compiled a large collection of rejection letters during this period, most of them form letters that weren’t even copied squarely on the page. It’s funny now, but it certainly pained me back then. I’d drag myself to the mailbox, holding my breath, wondering if I could bear another rejection. But I could and I did. Finally, a few people asked to see my manuscript. And more rejections piled up. More wondering if I could bear the rejection. More learning that I could.

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Taking Back the Past – SP

Telling the TaleThe last post in the Taking Back the Past series ended with my decision to write Christian fiction. Rather than picking up where that post left off, I’m going to digress a bit and go back to the start of my writing career. I think this is fitting given that Harlequin is re-issuing my first three books in a 3-1 volume in April. I promise to continue that story after I take you through those first three books.

Anyway, I think you’ll find it interesting to read my reflection on my start as recorded in the nonfiction book that I wrote in 1998-9, Telling the Tale: The African-American Fiction Writer’s Guide (Berkeley, 2000). One similarity that you’ll notice in the piece I wrote back in 1998-9 and the piece I wrote last week is the noton of “life-changing” events. Last week, I wrote, “. . .that call changed the course of my life. Literally.” In Telling the Tale, I wrote: “That decision changed my life.”

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Taking Back the Past – SCD

Second Chance DadI had planned to continue this conversation earlier in the week, but life and my day job took precedence. Now that I have a moment, I’d like to continue the story that I began for you in my earlier Taking Back the Past – AFW post. In that post, I told you what was going on around the time my first Silhouette title, A Family Wedding, was first published in 1997. In this post, I want to tell you about the time around the publication of my second Silhouette title, Second Chance Dad.

I have to tell you that I was flying pretty high at this point. Remember that I had given myself three years to make a living wage from my writting. At this point, I had finished the first book of my third two-book contract with Arabesque and, with Second Chance Dad, I was writing what my editor and I planned would be the first in my three-book series on the Bell brothers. Second Chance Dad was a Christmas book, meaning that it was released around December 1997. By the way, I had four books published that year — two for Silhouette and two for Arabesque. I’m telling you I was on a roll.

Okay, back to the Bell brothers. So, Second Chance Dad was a Christmas book that introduced the three Bell brothers. Get it–Bell brothers, Christmas bells? When the book was first published there was a family tree in the front done up as Christmas bells. This is the indication that there were going to be more books about the Bell brothers. At least, there was supposed to be more, but a funny thing happened when I sat down to write the next book: I couldn’t write it. Literally, nothing came. No outline, no anything.

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Taking Back the Past – AFW

A Family WeddingAs promised, this is the first post in my Take Back the Past series. Since quite a few of the secular romances that I wrote before I started writing Christian fiction are now being re-issued, I’ve decided to give you some insight into my life at the time I was writing the books. I pray that you find some encouragement from sharing this backward journey with me. Even though I don’t write secular romances anymore, those older books represent a part of my history that I don’t want to forget.

A Family Wedding was first published in 1997 as part of Harlequin’s Silhouette Special Edition line, which means that I probably wrote it in 1996. I say probably because with most publishers there’s a year lag between the time that you submit the manuscript and the time that the book is published; with Harlequin/Silhouette, sometimes the interval is shorter. I probably went to contract on the story in 1995, since the interval from contract to manuscript delivery is typically about a year as well.

Anyway, I remember this being a very happy time for me. I had signed a contract to write my fifth and sixth novels with Arabesque and now I had a second contract with the major romance publishing house. I had accomplished a major feat. At the time, there were not many authors writing African-American romance for Harlequin so I considered myself a pioneer. Okay, I’m laughing at myself now but that’s how I was thinking.

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Taking Back the Past

Sweet Passion I posted a while back about being concerned about my upcoming re-issues from Harlequin. A lot of my concern stemmed from confusing readers who have certain expectations for my work now that I write Christian fiction. Thanks to the support of some of you and to what I refer to as my “Anne Rice” moment, I decided to let it go and let God take care of it.

He did exactly that. I just saw the cover for my latest re-issue and I laughed out loud. You know why? Because there’s no way anybody could confuse that cover with a Christian fiction novel. And when I think about it, even the title, Sweet Passion, suggests that the story is not Christian fiction. And it’s not. Let’s be clear: my earlier romances include sexual content (though I’ve been told it’s pretty mild) that I do not put in my books today.

So now I rest easy. Actually, I started resting easy a while back after reading something that Anne Rice said about not being ashamed of her earlier books. I think she referred to them as “a record of her past.” I love that! When I look at my Christian fiction titles, they all deal with people who have done things in their past that they haven’t really dealt with, things they feel they need to hide or be ashamed of. How fitting is it then that my past is now staring me in the face?

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Silhouette Re-issues Older Romances

A Family WeddingI recently learned that Silhouette Books is re-issuing two books that I wrote for them in 1997, Second Chance Dad and A Family Wedding. The books are being re-issued as part of the pre-launch of Silhouette’s new African American romance line. Second Chance Dad hits the bookstores in December 2005 and A Family Wedding makes an appearance in February 2006. Second Chance Dad

While it’s usually profitable for an author to see her books re-issued, I have mixed emotions about my upcoming re-issues. You see, I wrote these books before I started writing Christian fiction and they contain explicit sex scenes that I would not put in a book today. The explicit scenes are only symptoms of the problem that I have with those books; my problem is that the characters in those books have no faith life. It’s as though they live in a world in which God does not exist. You never see them balance their life decisions with the tenets of their faith.

Many of you have read my older titles, so I’d like to hear what you think about them in terms of the faith lives of the characters. How do you think adding (or, developing) a faith life element for the main characters would have changed the stories? Would they have been better, worse, or just different? Let me know what you think.