Friday, May 6, 2016

Breaking the Cardinal Rule…

It’s taken me a full day to decide if I wanted to break the cardinal rule and post this response to a recent review I got for one of my historical novellas.

Now, I’m a big believer of not responding to reviews—good or bad—and I typically never do unless it involves a technical issue, but the fact that said “reviewer” felt the need to open his/her review with: “This was a perfect example of how people of color are still fully capable of cultural appropriation and erasure/oppression.” makes me wonder how much my being an author of color influenced his/her bigoted comments. I also wonder how my story specifically illustrated her claims of “cultural appropriation” and “oppression,” because those accusations were still very unclear to me, even at the end of her “review.”

So faced with this mountain of ignorance, I couldn’t help but right this wrong…

Below, you’ll find italicized quotations of the reviewers opinion of my story, A SWEET SURRENDER, and my response to her opinionated assumptions and narrow-minded commentary.

“The heroine was an Iroquois woman (actually half black through her father) who finds a British soldier injured and dying in the woods somewhere. She builds a shelter and nurses him back to health, but their sexual attraction to each other (which is handled in a hamfisted way with little chemistry between the characters) is hindered by the heroine's forced engagement to a Native man she doesn't care for and who attempts to dominate her.”


via GIPHY

That’s one way to summarize the story. I would just like to point out that the Iroquois were made up of 6 separate tribes. I think this is important to note (since the reviewer continues to reference the heroine as Iroquois while ignoring the part where she is of the Oneida nation) that each tribe had their own unique cultures, customs, and traditions. I won’t turn this into a history lesson (you can read more on the Oneida tribe and their role in the Revolutionary War in Forgotten Allies by Joseph T. Glatthaar and James Kirby Martin), but uninformed comments like this reminds me of those people who still call Africa a country.

“Unfortunately, very little of this is plausible in the least. As my bullshit radar started pinging, I started Googling. The pervasive myth of Native American and African mixing has been largely shown to be just that--a myth--with a greater likelihood in certain slaveholding southern tribes, such as the Cherokee and the Seminole. So while it is, in theory, not impossible that some random Black man found himself adopted into a Native tribe in New York state, it's incredibly unlikely, and genetic research seems to back this up.”


via GIPHY

From chapter 1 in Forgotten Allies:


I’m going to assume that the reviewer didn’t get far in their Google research—or their library is filled with lots of old historical romances where the “savage” warrior conquered the white maiden and that was the only "mixing" that went down—because she would have known, as many Americans do, that slavery was everywhere in America, not just the south. Almost everyone owned slaves, even Native Americans. The difference was that Natives weren’t as averse to “mixing” the races as colonists were and they adopted outsiders into their tribe so long as they were worthy. In my story, the heroine’s father (an African runaway) was actually inspired by actual events documented in one of my sources. Unlike the reviewer, I don’t have genetic research at my disposable but there is documented proof that Native Americans throughout the country adopted outsiders into their tribe—even random Black dudes.


via GIPHY

“The forced marriage is also a complete fabrication.” 

 Yes. It’s called fiction.


via GIPHY

“Iroquois women had a great deal of autonomy and chose their own partners from other tribes (Hart did get that detail correct--that the man was from another tribe). The husband did not have authority over the wife, however, putting lie to the main character's stubborn assertion that her future husband might be able to exert his authority over her soon, but not until they were formally wed. And in addition to not being forced to marry, Iroquois women were also actually allowed to initiate a divorce if they were unsatisfied with their marriage. So much for losing all her freedom forever.”


via GIPHY

More like, I don’t even know where to start... *sigh* I can’t begin to address this without going into a lengthy explanation about the social and cultural dynamic of the Oneida tribe, but needless to say it went like this: men hunted, women cared for the home. Like it's been since the beginning of man. Though the Oneida tribe were more progressive in that women’s opinions in politics and community issues were valued, it was men who were appointed to serve as head counsels and other diplomatic functions. Because customs and traditions changed with the social/political climate of their time, it's hard to determine what the dynamic had been like for this small tribe during wartime. Since my story is set during the biggest battle this tribe has ever seen—and my heroine was a young, unattached woman under the guardianship of the head matriarch in her clan—it's safe to assume she didn’t have as much “freedom” as a more mature woman in her clan and thus was arranged to be married to one of the tribes warriors. (Again, more of the tribe's culture and customs can be read in Forgotten Allies.)

“The story itself was not engaging enough to ignore the blatant abuse of Native culture. The woman is portrayed as a saintly healer who can do no harm while the hero is shown to be a Troubled Gentleman who can barely control his Manly Urges when the beautiful, dark-skinned savage (yeah, he calls her a savage once) is around.”


via GIPHY

*sigh*
Yet another arbitrary comment that makes me wonder if this “reviewer” was reading with any comprehension. Below is an excerpt from chapter 3 in A SWEET SURRENDER where the hero uses the word “savage”—as did many colonists and settlers of that time—when referring to the way he was dressed:
---
“You too tall,” she said, shaking her head as she stared at him in his ankle-baring trousers.
He found her amusement contagious and couldn’t contain a quick smile. “A blessing and a curse, it appears,” he muttered. He didn’t bother to put on the shirt. One look at it told him it would be a snug fit. She realized it too and took the shirt from him.
“I find you another.”
“I would appreciate it,” he said, smiling ruefully. “It wouldn’t do for me to walk back to my regime clothed like an ill-dressed savage.”
Disappointed anger and resentment clouded her dark eyes and he regretted the thoughtless words as soon as they left him. 
---
Note to Reviewer: If you’re going to state something as fact—and so adamantly, I might add—please have the decency to be accurate in your allegations.


via GIPHY

“The chemistry feels forced and icky, the characters feel wooden, and the babyish broken English spoken by the heroine makes me roll my eyes. Is it necessary, on top of everything else, to make her sound like a child or a painful cliche?” 

 As you can read from the excerpt above, the heroine does speak in "broken English" but it wasn’t like I had her using words like, you know, “icky...”


via GIPHY

Contrary to narrow-minded belief, English WAS NOT the native language of Native Americans. In fact, many Native Americans had their own language depending on the tribe and DID NOT speak any English. Because the Oneida tribe had decided to side with the colonists during the Revolutionary War, many of the chiefs and council members were learning the language and encouraging their people, particularly their warriors, to learn English. However, many Native American women and children did not speak English so to have my heroine speaking perfect English would have been historically inaccurate and just plain dumb.


via GIPHY

And speaking of “cultural appropriation and erasure/oppression,” I very much resent that speaking “broken English” is equated with sounding or being “babyish.” I come from a family where English is not our first language and I have taught students who spoke English as their second language. It’s this kind of insensitivity and ignorance that makes someone who isn’t fluent in English feel small and stupid. And that really ticks me off. Not speaking English fluently, or in the way you're used to hearing it, has nothing to do with that person's intelligence. Frankly, the “reviewers” aversion to my heroine’s “broken English” says more about the fishbowl world he/she lives in.

“I'm not Native and I don't know where else this story might have stomped on Iroquois culture, but if even a quick Googling reveals how badly handled the historical and cultural research was, I'm afraid to find out. Ultimately, the only positive thing I can say about this story is that it encouraged me to learn more about history, if only to see for myself what Ms. Hart got very wrong.” 


Funny how admitting to doing little to no research on the subject suddenly makes this reviewer an expert on Native American culture. But I guess, if nothing else, I’ll just have to be content that they found enough interest to further their “research.” I would just implore them—and everyone—to seek out credible sources and not rely solely on Google for their information. Enough historical inaccuracies have taken up precious virtual space already.

Now, if you made it this far down the post—you’re a champ!


via GIPHY

Just please don’t mistaken this post as an attack. It’s more like a crisp response—okay, maybe a snarky rant. But I hope you pick up A SWEET SURRENDER and judge the story for yourself. And if you find something off with my research, please tell me—so long as it's backed up with actual FACTS and credible sources, of course. I really want to know when/where I've made mistakes. My ego isn’t so big that I would object to being righted when I’m wrong.

 Now, back to my Hamilton soundtrack…and following the “authorly rules.”


via GIPHY

via GIPHY

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Lemonade Iced Tea + Kindle Fire Giveaway

Welcome to the 5th annual Authors in Bloom blog hop! I can't believe this is my 3rd year participating in the hop and to celebrate, I'm also offering a Kindle Fire to one lucky winner, plus some pretty awesome swag. =)

I'm also excited to feature my latest release, SOMETHING OLD, book 1 in my small town bridal series. Set in a fictional town in Virginia, this contemporary romance is about a jilted lover and a woman looking for a second chance. (Check out the trailer below!)

In honor of my new series, and the small southern town of Cedar Bend, I wanted to offer a recipe of my favorite springtime refreshment: lemonade iced tea. Also known in the south as half-and-half or an Arnold Palmer, this is actually my favorite year-round beverage but who's keeping track... ;) Hope you enjoy the trailer and the tea!

xoxo,
Lena 
**Enter the Amazon Giveaway**
iBooks  Google  Kindle ● Nook  Kobo ● ARe

Southern Style Lemonade Iced Tea
Ingredients
3 cups water
6 single tea bags (or 2 family-size bags)
1 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
1 cup sugar (or honey)
4 cups cold water
12-oz can frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
Sliced lemons wedges*

Preparation
1. Bring 3 cups water to a boil in a 2-qt. saucepan. Remove from heat, add tea bags and stir in fresh mints. Cover and steep 10 minutes.

2. Discard tea bags and mint. Stir in sugar until dissolved. Pour tea into a 3-qt. container, and stir in 4 cups cold water and lemonade concentrate. Serve over ice. Garnish with lemon slices, if desired. 

Tips to brewing the best tea:
  • Don’t place tea bags in boiling water. This can singe tea or cause bag to burst. Once the water reaches a low boil, place tea bags inside, cover, and let steep.
  • Don’t over steep the tea. 10 minutes should do it. More than 15 may cause the tea to be bitter.
  • Don’t just add lemons, ice, and throw in the fridge. This can make tea cloudy and sour. Instead, cover tea and let sit until it reaches room temperature then mix in lemonade mixture.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

New Release Alert!

Jilted by the one woman he’s ever loved, small town sheriff Guy Lawson vows never to let himself be so vulnerable. But when the woman who broke his heart returns to Cedar Bend, he is forced to uphold an old promise he made long ago…

After two years of running from her father’s death, Zamya “Mya” Daniels is ready to win back the man she loves. Except Guy doesn’t believe in second chances. When Mya sets out to repair their broken relationship, Guy’s guarded heart is helpless against his body’s desires.

Will their old bond be enough to save their love—or will they come to accept that some things just aren’t meant to last?

iBooks 
 Google  Kindle ● Nook  Kobo ● ARe

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

#99cents eBook Sale Alert!

MAKING IT REAL by Synithia Williams
**$0.99 for a limited time!**
After five years in prison, Kareem Henderson is starting his life over. Though business is good at his barbershop, his goal is to open a high-end gentlemen's salon. But the road back is rough, and he needs connections in the society he once snubbed to make his dream a reality. He just never expected his second chance to come from the sexy female barber he hired last year.

Patrice "Neecie" Baldwin escaped the pressure of being the perfect daughter in one of North Carolina's most prestigious families to live life on her own. When family responsibilities call her home, she fears going back will expose her to the pressures that nearly ruined her. Neecie needs a shield, and tall, handsome, bad boy Kareem seems impenetrable. So she offers him a deal: If he'll pretend to be her fiance, she'll introduce him to all of her well-connected relatives.

But the more time they spend together, the more the irresistible attraction between them builds. They're from such different worlds, but can this fake relationship make the cut and become something very real?


Synithia Williams has been an avid romance novel lover since picking up her first one at the age of thirteen. It was only natural that she would begin penning her own romances soon after. She's a native of South Carolina and now writes romances as hot as their southern settings. Her first novel, You Can't Plan Love, was published by Crimson Romance in the summer of 2012. She's written and published eight, novels since including her popular Southern Love and Henderson Family Series. Her seventh book, Making it Real, was listed as one of the Must Read Romances of 2015 in USA Today. Her first release with Harlequin Kimani, A New York Kind of Love, released in January 2016. She's married to her own personal hero and they have two sons who've convinced her that professional wrestling and superheroes are supreme entertainment. You can learn more about Synithia by visiting her website, www.synithiawilliams.com, where she blogs about writing, life and relationships.

You can find her at:

Monday, March 7, 2016

New Release!

Shades of Desire 2: Sexier by the Dozen is now available!
**$0.99 for a limited time**


Twelve titillating tales for naughtier nights and dreamier days. Get swept away by USA Today, bestselling, and award-winning authors in this set of sweet and spicy romances that will leave you breathless with desire...



Sunday, March 6, 2016

#99cents Sale Extended!

The $0.99 sale for book 3 in my steamy romantic suspense series, Queen of His Heart, will be extended for 1 more week only! Grab your copy and find out why reviewers are calling it "must read, simple as that!" -Long and Short Reviews


**Excerpt**


“Can I kiss you, muñeca?”
Judith’s heart skipped, but he didn’t wait for her response. Leaning down, he brushed his lips lightly across hers. Once, twice…then again. His touch was light and sweet. Her reaction was anything but.
The soft caress sent a charge through her, igniting a fire that had been smoldering for far too long. The fervor raging through her was unlike anything she’d ever felt before. In that moment, a firestorm of desire erupted inside her. She came alive again.
With an unsteady breath, she threw her arms around his neck and kissed him back.
He didn’t miss a beat.
Crushing her to him, he slanted his head and devoured her lips with his. She returned his kiss with all the pent-up passion and need surging through her.
Their bodies strained against each other as his erection pushed firmly along her belly. Clutching at his shoulders, she arched against him, wanting—no, needing—to get as close to him as she could. He thrust his tongue into her mouth, and she gently sucked at it, licking, teasing, and taking all that he gave.
She craved him. Craved his touch and his heat.
With an arm wrapped tightly around her waist, the other gripping the under curves of her butt, Carlos pulled her firmly to him and they ground against each other.
She wanted to feel all of him, and he obviously wanted the same thing. He shoved solidly against her and they fell back against the supply shelf, rattling a few items to the ground, but never breaking contact.
He walked them farther back into the supply room, where the illumination of the downlighting couldn’t reach them, and set her on the smooth surface of the high counter. Her tight skirt constricted her movements some, but she managed to spread her legs slightly. She cradled his hips, loving the heat and hardness of him pushed against her.
Dragging his lips away from hers, he trailed soft kisses down her neck. His trim facial hair grazed against her sensitive skin, leaving traces of heat behind. Small shivers coursed through her as he began sucking strongly at a tender spot just above her collarbone. She gasped softly, unable to stop the low moan that escaped her lips.
Still clutching at his shoulder, she brought her other hand up to his hair and ran her fingers through the short, wavy strands. They were softer than she’d imagined and she clutched her fingers around his dark hair as he moved his lips up to the underside of her jaw, still kissing and gently sucking on her delicate skin.
“Quiero probarte, muñeca,” he rasped close to her ear.
Everything in her trembled at his husky words. She didn’t know what he’d said, but the words stirred something deep inside her.
He moved to another spot on her neck, gently nipping again at the tender flesh and she released a shuddering breath, her grip tightening around his hair.
Bringing his lips inches from hers, he stared down at her with eyes as dark and rich as his low, baritone voice.
“Can I, muñeca?” Carlos asked, his hands sliding down her waist until they gripped her hips. “Taste you?”
Judith gazed at him through lowered lids, her fingers now clenching and unclenching around his rigid shoulders. She loved the way he kissed her, loved the way his tongue slid along hers. And she wanted him to do it again.
He flicked his tongue lightly across the lower edge of her mouth and she instinctively sucked in her bottom lip.
“Say yes,” he prompted, his grip tightening around the soft curves of her hips.
“Yes,” she breathed. 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Happy Valentine's Day! #WhenBlackWomenFall

Happy Valentine's Day!

All around the world, couples are celebrating the power of love. In fact, many celebrate it differently. Here is an article on the different traditions of Valentine's Day around the world. For me, as a romance author, I get to write about love all the time and it's the best job. This month, I teamed up with several fellow romance authors on a blog tour highlighting black heroines falling in love. As part of the tour, we've put together a sample book of our featured stories. Be sure to check it out and join the tour!

Then, check out this wonderful blog post by author Kim Golden on her experiences in writing about (and finding) love the unconventional way...

Maybe...Love: Love in Translation
by Kim Golden

When I first wrote about Laney in Maybe Baby, I had no idea that she would demand more stories. I never intended for Maybe Baby to become a series. I only knew I wanted to tell the story of a black woman from the States who--like me--happened to live in Scandinavia and who happened to fall in love. But, unlike me, Laney wasn't in love with the man she was with.  Laney wanted something more. She thought she wanted a baby. What she really wanted was to find the person who was meant to complete her. And this journey is the story I tell in Maybe Baby. How she meets and falls in love with Mads, who is also searching and feeling just as lost as Laney. 

Over the course of three books (Maybe Baby, Maybe Tonight and Maybe Forever), I've charted their love story. Not everyone appreciates it. Some people are put off by the infidelity angle and it prevents them from seeing what is the heart of the story: two people searching for and finding love, just maybe not in the best of ways. Infidelity ends up figuring into a lot of my writing. Not because I condone it. It's more that I am interested in what makes people cheat. And how they deal with the consequences of it.

Once I'd finished tweaking Maybe Baby, I received advice that it would be easier to sell if Laney were white or if I changed the setting from Scandinavia to somewhere more palatable for American tastes like Paris or London or even New York. But that wasn't what I wanted. And really, when I began writing Maybe Baby, I wrote it more for me than anyone else. I didn't want to read another story set in New York or London or Paris. I wanted to write about looking for love in Scandinavia--especially since I live here and know Stockholm, Sweden and Copenhagen, Denmark much better than I do Paris or New York. Someone even suggested I change Laney to a white woman because--"you'll sell more books that way."  But I didn't want to tell a random white woman's story. And Laney came to me as a black woman, not a white woman.  I wanted to tell her story—the story of a black woman living in Europe and trying to find that someone who would make her feel like she'd come home. 

So...I won't change the sort of characters I write about just to please people who don't want to read about black women falling in love. And I won't change the settings just because some people have no clue where Scandinavia is or think that the only thing capable of being set there is a murder mystery. I found love in Scandinavia...I found my guy who made me feel like I'd come home. And I think there are more love stories to come that have a connection with my Nordic home...a few more stories about Laney, her feisty cousin Eddy...maybe even Laney's daughters once they're old enough. And I think I'll keep writing about black women in love.

At the end of the day...it's what we all want—love.

If you’d like to read love stories outside of your comfort zones, check out the selection of books, including Maybe Baby, on the When Black Women Fall promo tour at http://whenblackwomenfall.com!

Kim Golden was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1995, she left the US and moved to Sweden for love with a capital L. When she isn't writing fiction, she writes copy about perfume for a Swedish cosmetics firm. She writes stories for people who know that love comes in every color.

Author links:
Twitter https://twitter.com/kimigm