01-19-19 – Judith Ashley – My Sanctuaries and Safe Havens: Writing and Spiritual Practices

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Black Romance Authors

Hi everyone! I am YA author B A Binns , writer of contemporary and realistic fiction for teens. My tagline tells you what I am about - Stories of Real Boys Growing Into Real Men - and the people who love them. 

Today I have asked two of my favorite authors (favorite both in person and from their books) to visit with us and tell us about themselves, their publishing journey and new projects. I've known Connie Gillam since my RWA (https://www.rwa.org/) days, and Farrah Rochon and I sometimes cross paths at Romance Slam Jam (https://rsjconvention.com/), a readers and writers convention focusing on African American romance. Today they visit Romancing The Genres to tell our readers about their writing journey and life as independent or hybrid authors. 

First, tell us a little about yourselves:

Hi, I’m Connie Gillam, writing as Constance Gillam. (http://www.constancegillam.com/) I started seriously writing about fourteen years ago. Before then I would write a chapter get discouraged and stuff it in a drawer. When my last child entered high school, I sat down to learn how to complete a story. My local chapter of Romance Writers of America was instrumental in teaching me the basics through workshops, critiques and personal instruction. I grew up in the Midwest and now live in the sunny South. 

I’m Farrah Rochon, (http://www.farrahrochon.com/) and I have been writing and making up stories in my head my entire life. It’s just what I do. This past March I celebrated ten years as a published author. I’ve written 34 novels and novellas, and am hard at work on the 35th. So far, I’ve only published Contemporary Romance novels primarily featuring African American characters. However, I have a Young Adult and a few Romantic Suspense titles sitting on my computer. In addition to writing, I love to travel (probably too much), watch sports, and attend Broadway shows. 

Clue us in on the steps in your writing journey. 

Farrah: I was with Kimani Romance from 2009 – 2016. That means the news of it closing hit very close to home. I wrote sixteen novels and novellas for the line, and found many of my readers through those books. They will always hold a special place in my heart. But Indie publishing has opened up a whole new world to both authors and readers of color. It’s no longer up to the gatekeepers to decide whose stories get told. That’s refreshing. 

Connie: When I finaled in RWA’s Golden Heart contest in 2008, I received my first validation as a writer. The next two years were filled with highs. I wrote a young adult novel that was well received on the contest circuit, got an agent and felt I was on my way to the life of big advances and hardback covers. 

(Clue the dramatic music). 

Then it all went to shit. My mother died, my agent left the business and every publisher in New York rejected my manuscript. I went through a two year bout of writing depression. About that time digital started to grow. I tried my hand at being my own publisher. I self-published my young adult novel. It did poorly. Two years later I tried again this time with an adult novel that defied categorization. Part mystery, part supernatural/mystical suspense, part women’s fiction, Lakota Dreaming received some decent reviews and made enough money so I could qualify for RWA’s PAN (Published Authors Network).

What are your future publishing plans, especially with Harlequin closing it's African American line? 

Farrah: Because I’d already stopped writing for Kimani, I don’t see the closing of the line affecting me in any significant way. While I feel sorrow for my fellow writing friends still with Kimani, I wasn’t all that surprised when the decision was made to shut it down. The romance world has changed drastically in the time since I’ve been published, and Kimani’s core audience now has a plethora of options when it comes finding romances with people who look like them. They aren’t constrained to the four books Kimani published a month, along with a few offerings from a couple of other publishing houses

For now, I love being a hybrid author and don’t expect to change any time soon. I’ve just published TRUST ME, the fifth book in my Holmes Brothers series—a series originally published with Dorchester Publishing years ago that I’ve been able to return to because of indie publishing. I plan to continue that series for several more books before moving on to something new. I have so many ideas; the biggest question is which one to tackle next. 

Connie: I’ve continued the Lakota series with a historical, Lakota Moon Rising (a prequel) and the latest, LAKOTA BLUE MOON, a romantic thriller.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of being an Indie or hybrid author? 

Connie: Marketing and promotion sucks when you are Indie, but I love being in control of my covers, my writing schedule and my time. Maybe one day I’ll go hybrid, but for now I’m happy being self-published.

Farrah: I’m a hybrid author, and so far, I am loving it. I love the control over my work, the quick turnaround (no more waiting a year to see my book on virtual store shelves) and the flexibility. There are disadvantages, of course. I miss seeing my books on the shelves of brick and mortar stores, however, the shelf space has been shrinking so much that I’m not sure my books would be there anyway. There’s also the issue of owning every single bit of the publishing process. It can be really intense at times. Some days I do miss just turning my book over to my editor and not having to worry about writing back cover copy, searching through hundreds of pages of stock art, and all the other things that come with indie publishing. However, for me, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. 

I want to thank both of my friends for sharing themselves with us. 

Farrah’s latest release is TRUST ME, Book 5 in the Holmes Brothers series.

Trust doesn’t always come easy… As the maverick of the New Orleans City Council, Mackenna Arnold has spent the last four years dismantling the council’s “politics as usual” mentality. Never one to shy away from a challenge, Mack now has her sights set on an even bigger prize: the mayor’s office. But only when the time is right. And only if she can get the pesky freelance journalist hell-bent on investigating her for corruption—who just so happens to be one of the sexiest men alive and her best friend’s younger brother—off her back. But when Mack suspects that her longtime mentor and the city’s current mayor is up to no good, she must convince Ezra Holmes to help her investigate the mayor’s office. Ezra can admit to having had a thing for Mackenna in his younger days, even though she barely knew his name back then. But his past feelings for Mack have nothing to do with why he’s so committed to exposing her. He suspects she’s used her influence as a public official to cut private deals, and breaking this corruption story would be just the thing to jumpstart his fading career. But what is Ezra supposed to do when he discovers Mack isn’t the one who’s a crooked politician? There’s only one thing he can do: join forces with the woman he’s been crazy about for far too long.

For more, and to read an excerpt, go to:https://www.facebook.com/notes/farrah-rochon/trust-me-the-holmes-brothers-book-5/1976413585718238/

Connie's new book is LAKOTA BLOOD MOON


Police Captain John Iron Hawk’s life is a speeding vehicle down a deserted road. A road with his tormented past looming at his back and a future summed up by the black thunder clouds building on the horizon. His relationship with his daughter is nonexistent. And he can’t seem to say the words to the woman he loves to make her stay.

When Zora Hughes receives a job offer from Cosmopolitan magazine, she knows she has to take it and reestablish her career on the New York fashion scene. She has nothing to keep her on Little River Reservation, even if John is the only man she’s ever trusted or loved this completely. John’s life is his job, and he has little left over to build something with her.

When a psychopathic killer turns their world upside down, they must dig deep to find the strength to outwit an adversary who will strip them of everything they hold dear…including each other.

For more, and to read an excerpt, go to https://www.amazon.com/Constance-Gillam/e/B00OV1JERO/ 


Constance Gillam said...

Barbara, thanks for allowing me to share my writing journey with you and your readers.

Diana McCollum said...

What an interesting blog post! Love the blurbs, both books are going on my to-be-read shelf! Good luck with sales, ladies!

Echo Ishii said...

Thanks for this post! Love it. I have known of Farrah Rochon books for a while, but not Constance Gilliam. So glad to find a new author.