Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Tour Schedule

 



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 Misappropriate is going on tour! Hosted by Silver Dagger Book Tours, follow the tour for special content and giveaway. Don't forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!


Misappropriate

Death Dwellers MC 2

by Kathryn C. Kelly

Genre: Contemporary MC Romance



Meggie. The beauty who tamed the biker.
She believes her future is bright. Her baby boy. the love of her man and the affection of the Death Dweller brothers fill her with contentment. Now, the only thing she wants is to have her marriage blessed in a church ceremony.

Outlaw. The bad boy who fell for the beauty.
When a new threat rides into town and puts a target on his woman's back, Christopher "Outlaw" Caldwell is forced to confront a past that has him questioning if Megan belongs with him or not. Standing in a sanctuary reciting sacred vows suddenly seems a useless exercise. He wants vengeance and blood. Love and romance have no place in a world of violence and vengeance. The more he pushes her away, the more Megan lures him in. She sees him as Christopher, but Outlaw is in his blood. Just as he always feared, the man she believes him to be and the one he is collide, risking the most important thing of all: Megan's life. 

Warning: For mature audiences only. Contains sex, drugs, violence, and excessive profanity. 


**Only .99cents!!**

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In her dreams, Kathryn C. Kelly is a flirtatious biker babe with the rumble of a hog between her legs and a shirtless bad boy wrapped in her arms. Kathryn and her bad ass biker boy spend their evenings tossing back great scotch (Chivas Regal) and fighting over who is better at Cards against Humanity (she is, obviously.)

In her reality, Kathryn is a native New Orleanian who has survived Hurricane Katrina and breast

cancer. Now she’s hoping to survive three lively girls. While not playing Wonder Mom, Kathryn can be found putting all those dreams into the pages of her next Death Dwellers Motorcycle Club novel.


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Friday, January 28, 2022

From the desk of Memaw Kelly: My SBA Nightmare

Sometimes, there is comfort in shared experiences. I am coming to you with a question and to share what I am going through with the SBA. In February 2021, I received an invitation for the Targeted Advance. Once I completed the application, I printed the submission confirmation that came up on my screen. When I hadn’t heard from the SBA by April, I sent an email to request a status update and was told they would be in touch soon. By June, when I hadn’t heard from the SBA one way or the other, I decided to call. That was the first time I was aware of any trouble with my application. Apparently, on their end, their system was showing I HADN’T submitted my application. 

Fast forward to October and a million emails and telephone calls later, I was told my application would have to be processed manually because the submit for processing button wouldn’t populate. My daughter assisted me and followed whatever the representatives advised me to do: cleared the cache, cleared the cookies, tried different browsers, reset the password, tried different devices, responded to the links sent after I called, Nothing worked then and nothing works now. In November, I was told I hadn’t requested an EIDL increase. I did. Then I was told, I hadn’t stated the increase amount. I did that, too. One representative told me I wouldn’t get the grant without accepting the loan portion. Another told me I didn’t need to accept the loan, I just had to request it to be eligible for the Targeted Advance. That was a bridge I would cross when I got to it. 

Fast forward to December 18th when a Disaster Specialist told me I had until the 31st to get in what was needed. After that, processing for the Targeted Advance applications would cease. He said something to the effect of your application has been pending for ten months, since February, and I’m trying to get the money to you. He gave me very specific instructions: fill out a new 4506t and email it back ASAP, wait for 2-3 days and call to make sure it was received, then call back by 12/27 to see if there were any error messages from the IRS. HE was helpful. Everyone else thereafter wasn’t. The representative I spoke to when I called to check if the 4506t had been received, as instructed to do, told me it wouldn’t take 2-3 days for the document to be uploaded as I had been told. It would be 2-3 weeks. She also said processing for the Supplemental Advance would end on 12/31, not the Targeted Advance, and I hadn’t checked the box to receive the Supplemental Advance. When I told her there was no box for a supplemental advance in the original application, she referred me to the SBA’s website to answer any questions I had and that there was nothing she could do to retroactively say I wanted to be eligible for the Supplemental Advance. On the website, I discovered the Supplemental Advance was by invitation only, just as the Targeted Advance had been. I was so frustrated by the misinformation I wrote to the ombudsman (never heard back) and then the next day contacted my state representative. 

On 12/30, the representative I spoke to on the 18th sent an email to me to let me know that the 4506t hadn’t been received, even though I did, in fact, send it ON THE 18th. Because I was dealing with email (manual processing) since my portal wasn’t working, the 4506t I sent in on 12/18 was either ignored or rejected. I called the Disaster Assistance center on 12/30 after receiving the email, for help with the 4506t. I waited for over 20 minutes before a representative answered and he refused to give me any help. As a matter of fact, he hung up on me mid-question. 

With increasing despair and defeat, I responded to the email the representative sent to me earlier that day, and then sent in another 4506t. From my request to my state representative, I received a call from a loan specialist on the SBA’s high priority team earlier this month. She told me that I no longer qualified for the Targeted Advance because I never submitted the application via the portal, and it was still showing ‘In Progress’. She said the SBA would now treat the application as a NEW application, and they were no longer accepting new applications. I didn’t remember I had the printed confirmation that I had in fact submitted the application in response to the invitation, so I didn’t mention it to her at that time. She also said that I still had to go through the entire process of receiving a formal reply from the EIDL increase request as well as a formal reply for the Targeted Advance, even though it would be a denial. She said that the submit button wouldn’t populate until whatever needed doing to receive a reply for the EIDL increase was completed. That requirement was news to me. All I had been told was I needed to press submit for processing to have the Targeted Advance application processed. I was never told that button was dependent upon the processing of the EIDL increase. She also said that, because of the congressional inquiry, processing of my EIDL application would take an additional 4-5 weeks. Perhaps, several months ago, I would’ve been eligible for that loan portion, whether I wanted it or not, but my credit score has plummeted over the last few months. 

Fast forward to 1/25/22, I received a response to the email I sent on 12/30/21, stating I needed to press submit for processing AND submit a 4506t via the portal to be eligible for consideration for the Targeted Advance. There was no mention of the EIDL increase request needing to be processed BEFORE the submit for processing button for the Targeted Advance would populate. At any rate, that is still impossible because my portal doesn’t work. Not only did the representative from the 1/25/22 email completely ignore the portal issues I have repeatedly called in for, (or the fact I was told on 10/21/21 my application would need manual processing), but she didn’t respond until six days before the deadline. I am too intimidated to call, especially with the increasingly hostile reception I got. I fear because I contacted my congressman and sent a complaint to the ombudsman, my application will remain pending until there is no money available. I felt as if I had no choice but to request help BECAUSE of the way my portal issues, and thus my Targeted Advance application, was being handled. At most, it usually takes 5 days to receive a response from any email. Normally, it is 2-3. This time, almost an entire month went by before receiving instructions that do me no good since my portal IS NOT populating the submit for processing button. 

As it has with so many, the pandemic affected my business earnings, so I was relying on the Targeted Advance to advertise our books, to restock office supplies, to get our websites running again, to get a camera especially for when I go live to read my story, Underground Captive, and for countless other things that we need for our books. We can no longer find even a small amount to do any of those things from our personal income between the costs of mortgage, utilities, food, medication, animal food, toiletries, the list is endless. I know you all know what I mean because, in every corner, the world seems to be fighting to survive this nightmare. Now, I certainly understand there are so many others who are waiting for their applications to be processed. I might be 85 but my faculties are in perfect condition. I’m just as positive that my application isn’t the only one that’s been pending for 11 ½ months. I’ve been writing since I was 16 years old, and it was only later in my life that I begin to see any success, writing as Christine Holden with my daughter. I had two dreams before I pass on to Glory—have the titles to our house in my hands and to see one of our books on a bestseller’s list. While the Targeted Advance alone wouldn’t have accomplished those goals, it would have set me on the road to perhaps get it done down the line. More than that, though, it would’ve given me hope. I have been so stressed out, some days, it seems as if I will drop dead. 

After sending off my 9 pages of notes to a couple folks, I have been advised to seek legal counsel. I don’t want to do that. I only want this resolved. Thank you for reading my post. I had intended to go live on Facebook today, but my blood pressure has been high and I have been suffering with terrible vertigo. Hopefully, tomorrow, I will well enough to log on. In the meantime, please share this post, so I can hear the stories of others. For me and everyone else whose applications are still pending, it is a race against time. They are only being processed until the SBA runs out of the money set aside for this. Where I am concerned and according to the SBA, no one on their end ever got my portal to work so that elusive submit for processing button would populate so that I might’ve received the Targeted Advance. What is your SBA story? Did you find any help? Do you think there is any hope for me?

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Holiday Greetings



The Twelve Days of Christmas

As Adapted by Christopher "Outlaw" Caldwell

WARNING: My ass not rhyming worth a shit.




On the first day of Christmas 
my true love gave my fucking ass:
A taste of her pussy under the fucking tree

On the second day of Christmas
my true love gave my fucking ass:
2 big buds
and a taste of her pussy under the fucking tree

On the third day of Christmas 
my true love gave my fucking ass:
3 fucking hugs
2 big buds
and a taste of her pussy under the fucking tree

On the fourth day of Christmas
my true love gave my fucking ass:
4 hand jobs
3 fucking hugs
2 big buds
and a taste of her pussy under the fucking tree

On the fifth day of Christmas 
my true love gave my fucking ass: 
5 Dick Sucks
4 hand jobs
 3 fucking hugs
 2 big buds
and a taste of her pussy under the fucking tree


On the sixth day of Christmas
 my true love gave my fucking ass:
6 Hooker Moves
5 Dick Sucks
4 Hand Jobs
3 Fucking Hugs
2 big buds
and a taste of her pussy under the fucking tree

On the seventh day of Christmas
my true love gave my fucking ass: 
                                                                              7 Lil Motherfuckers
6 Hooker Moves
5 Dick Sucks
4 Hand Jobs
3 Fucking Hugs
2 big buds
and a taste of her pussy under the fucking tree

On the eighth day of Christmas 
my true love gave my fucking ass:
8 Cock Grinds
7 Lil Motherfuckers
6 Hooker Moves
5 Dick Sucks
4 Hand Jobs
3 Fucking Hugs
2 big buds
and a taste of her pussy under the fucking tree

On the ninth day of Christmas            
On the ninth day of Christmas
my true love gave my fucking ass:  
9 Stripper Dances
8 Cock Grinds
7 Lil Motherfuckers
6 Hooker Moves
5 Dick Sucks
4 Hand Jobs
3 Fucking Hugs
2 big buds
and a taste of her pussy under the fucking tree
On the tenth day of Christmas
my true love gave my fucking ass:
10 Looks of Love
9 Stripper Dances
8 Cock Grinds
7 Lil Motherfuckers
6 Hooker Moves
5 Dick Sucks
4 Hand Jobs
3 Fucking Hugs
2 big buds
and a taste of her pussy under the fucking Tree

 On the eleventh day of Christmas
my true love gave my fucking ass:
11 Pussy Clenches
10 Looks of Love
9 Stripper Dances
8 Cock Grinds
7 Lil Motherfuckers
6 Hooker Moves
5 Dick Sucks
4 Hand Jobs
3 Fucking Hugs
2 big buds
and a taste of her pussy under the fucking Tree

On the twelfth day of Christmas
my true love gave my fucking ass:
12 Dick Ridings
11 Pussy Clenches
10 Looks of Love
9 Stripper Dances
8 Cock Grinds
7 Lil Motherfuckers
6 Hooker Moves
5 Dick Sucks
4 Hand Jobs
3 Fucking Hugs
2 big buds
and a taste of her pussy under the fucking Tree



Dear Beautiful People,

Outlaw is at it again. Just as he adapted 'Twas the Night Before Christmas several years ago, he decided to take a stab at the Twelve Days of Christmas. I hope you enjoyed his version. My family and I wish everyone a happy and safe holiday season. Love, Kat

         


Tuesday, January 21, 2020

It's Getting All Racial in this Piece...


Things that make you go hmmm



From time-to-time, I share stories of my pre-Momma life with my girls. One recent conversation with them had the middle and youngest looking squinty-eyed at me. It is an experience I will get to in a moment. For the time being, I would like to talk about an issue that has dominated discussions in my house—the implosion of the Romance Writers of America.
Hmmm.
To discuss race in America, indeed the world, is always dangerous territory. It is usually part of the kitchen table talk in my house. These past weeks, though, have been a hotbed of accusations, resentment, and misunderstandings. It has always been fascinating to me that charges of racism inevitably garner countercharges of playing the race card. I would love to be able to clearly and concisely proclaim to my daughters that neither race nor gender plays a role in day-to-day treatment, but I can’t.
The controversy currently going on in RWA hits home. I joined in 1990, starry-eyed and excited, so it was with excitement and anxiety that I signed up for a chapter, and subsequently, a chapter conference. I have always been shy, so it was quite hard for me having to attend the meet-and-greet as a quasi-writer. At that time, I had come up with a story idea and begged my mother to write it. She agreed, as long as I researched and typed what she wrote in long hand. Giving my promise also meant I had to get out in the great, big world and network.
I was my mother’s only child and the youngest child of my father; both were older, turning 35 and 51, respectively, when I came into the world in the aftermath of the turbulent 60s. Saying I was sheltered is the understatement of this millennium and the next five. But my shyness entered the territory of sheer fear. To this day, I believe my mother pushed me to network to help me come into my own and face the world.
So there I was: facing the world at an RWA chapter conference. She stayed in our hotel room, wished me luck, and sent me off. When I found the suite where the meet-and-greet was taking place, I walked in with the burden of shyness on one shoulder and the dreams of a sheltered, starry-eyed nineteen-year-old.
I found the lady I’d had several conversations with over the telephone as I promised I would. Besides, she was the only person I kinda, sorta knew. I needed that lifeline because I was petrified. She was cordial but busy, so after a brief conversation, left me to do what needed to be done and, of course, to talk to who she knew. In a word: everybody. I stood by, nodding to those who acknowledged me or exchanging pleasantries for the same reason.
I was like a fish out of water. I felt different—out-of-place. For the life of me, I didn’t know why.
After being there for an hour, and picking out some well-known romance writers, whose books sat on my shelves, another author walked in. I knew her immediately because I had read some of her work. People were excited to see her. I was excited to see her. She mingled and worked her way through the crowd, drawing ever nearer to where I stood. I was working up my courage to talk to her whenever she had a free moment.
Ah, but she spotted me first. She looked me in the eye, smiled, and blared: “WHO LET THE HELP IN”? If I had any doubt that she meant me, (which I didn’t), the stares at me, snickers, and uncomfortable murmurs while staring at me, quickly cleared up. Not only that—I was the only Black person in the room.
I was humiliated and crushed. I left not long after that. Thus, was my introduction to the world of RWA.
I went back the next year. I wanted to be a writer and I needed to network. We couldn’t afford Nationals (aka RWA’s yearly conference), so this nearby conference it was. This time, I went on a Greyhound Bus. I’d only been driving about two and a half years, so my mother wouldn’t allow me to take her car almost two hundred miles away. I ended up meeting a writer and her husband, who ultimately invited me to drive back to New Orleans with them. The convention was uneventful…until I was cornered on a staircase and asked why was I there and what type of books did I write? I explained to her I was working with my mother on a book idea I’d had. It was set in 1853 New Orleans. The hero was a worker on the Underground Railroad and the heroine was the daughter of one of the wealthiest plantation owners. She let my explanation sink in, then asked me, “as a Black who can you write about white people?”
Hmmm.
In all my naivete, (read: stupidity), it never occurred to me that I would need an explanation on why I chose to write that book. Or any book for that matter. Still, I answered her. I told her I researched the Antebellum and Post-bellum South, especially Louisiana, and, in particular, New Orleans. She contemplated that and then decided: “I suppose it is easier for you to write about us, then for us to write about you. We’re all over TV and the movies. It’s easy to find out about our mannerisms and the way we talk and live that way. Right?”
This conversation was making my head and stomach hurt, and I really wanted to throw up. I didn’t know what to say, though, so I nodded. I added, on a mumble, “but we’re all just people, right? We aren’t any different because we are different colors.”
She probably didn’t hear me because when I say I mumbled, I did. I wanted to be invisible. Yet, I stuck out like a sore thumb. I stuck out like the only Black person there who wasn’t part of the hotel staff.
That was the last time I went to the conference. Eventually, I became Vice-President of a chapter. I was invited to speak at certain places. I was awarded a Trailblazers Award. We got an agent. We got five publishing contracts. We were on local news stations in Southern Louisiana and Beaumont, TX. We were featured in New Orleans Magazine and in two Natchez, MS newspapers. I met some of my heroines of the romance genre. I fielded “race” questions. The characters my mom and I wrote were Caucasian. I accepted criticism and denials. Black bookstore owners refuse to carry our books. We were Women-of-Color, who chose to write ‘white’.
No, I would say. We are Americans, who exercised our freedom of speech and wrote what came to us. Read your history, girl, they would say to me. Mostly, they said nothing at all. They just gave me the side eye and firmly closed their doors. At booksignings, I came across women who turned their noses at me without even approaching my table, friends pulling friends back with the warning: Don’t go to HER table because she writes THOSE books. You know? About Blacks. I heard from my friends, I’m not reading your books unless you write about Black people. I can’t identify with Whites.
So what was this: racism or ignorance? Not one-sided, either.
Months later, the friend I’d made at the last conference in that Louisiana town and I went out exploring an ended up at a restaurant in Buck Town, in a section that was the heart of Duke Country (David Duke, former KKK Grand Wizard). Towards the end of our meal, she looked around and exclaimed, “Oh my God, do you know you’re the ONLY Black person in here who isn’t bussing tables?” I was as shocked as she was. “Well, yeah,” I responded. “I saw that the moment I walked in.” My words shocked her. “You did?” I thought her reaction was funny and I said, “as a Black person, it is something you tend to notice immediately. Call it instinct or a sense of survival.” Her eyes grew rounder. “Are you afraid?” Now, my eyes grew round. “Nope. Should I be?” Nonplussed, she shrugged. “If you took me to a restaurant and I realized I was the only White person, I would be afraid.” I tsked. “First of all, it wouldn’t have been a dawning realization that you were the only White person. You would’ve picked up on that immediately. Secondly, the world is much more accepting, so you and I should be able to go wherever we want to, without any problems. Just like I trusted you to bring me to a place where I wouldn’t come to any harm, I expect that same trust from you.”
Eventually, she and I lost contact. She moved away.
I continued in RWA. The editor my mom and I had, resigned. Our agent closed her doors. We were assigned a new editor, who had never liked our writing, so I knew our time at the publishing house was coming to an end.
I continued in RWA.
I attended another conference. My last, actually. I was older now. Divorced. Mother of a beautiful little girl. I was also weary. Being an American was one thing; being a Black American, a Person-of-Color, was another. And, as a Black woman, the onus was on me to preserve the Black race. To keep it pure by marrying a Black man. But this always falls on a woman’s shoulders. We are expected to stay within the boundaries of race.
I hadn’t, though. I married a man from Northern Ireland. Our daughter is bi-racial. We fit in as long as we were with our families, amongst a select number of friends, and within the world of romance writing. Off the top of my head, I recall two fights due to our interracial relationship. One, when we were in the French Quarter, showing his visiting friend what New Orleans had to offer, a guy from a group, looked at my then-boyfriend and his friend, then looked at me and said, “she ain’t all that, bruh.” My boyfriend asked what that meant. I shrugged and said it means, “I’m not that special. Basically, why are you with me when he wouldn’t have me?”
Egged on by his friend, my boyfriend backtracked and approached the group. Fighting commenced, a melee that went across Decatur Street and the back again. Someone sprayed pepper spray into the fighters. Cussing and shouting and accusations and chaos ensued. Until I heard sirens. I squeezed my way through the crowd and told them that cops were coming. Unless you want to be arrested, stop this now.
Just like that, the fight broke up. Nothing else anyone said had worked.
Hmmm.
Another time, we had gone to an event in downtown New Orleans. It was a peaceful Sunday afternoon and we were enjoying each other’s company, heading back to the car. The looks, comments, and sneers, from one man, ruined it. Before I could blink, this stranger and the man I loved were arguing. I. Was. FURIOUS. This pushback, when it was no one else’s business, was just too much. In the middle of the testosterone-fueled shoving match, I jumped between them. By the time I was pulled away, I had torn the stranger’s shirt off and tried to rip his chest open with my nails.
No, it didn’t make me better than them, but I was so frustrated, especially by the fact that the physical confrontations were always with Black men. I was the traitor. The Oreo Cookie…the…well, you get the picture. In the years to come, my biracial daughter would also face…?
What would you say if I called it racism? Would I now be playing the race card?
What would YOU call it?
It has impacted her life, and left her with an identity crisis.
Yet, in that room, with that editor, I pushed all the past hurt and confrontations out of my mind. I saw her as a woman who would want to see a proposal that I wrote. Or not. I didn’t care about the ignorance or the hatefulness that I had faced through the years. I was a writer. She was an editor. I was at an RWA chapter event, and I needed another publishing contract.
I gave my pitch. And she looked at me. “Why don’t you write Black stories?” she demanded. I floundered for a minute before I replied. “I believe love is love. It really has no color.” She nodded, courteous enough to acknowledge my reply, then said, “The romance industry is an overcrowded field and there are enough white writers to write white characters. I can’t look at your submission because I don’t feel you should be competing in such an overcrowded category. Write about Black characters. We need more of these stories. You’d get more recognition because there’s even a special section in bookstores for Black romance. I’m sure many of my colleagues feel the same way. That’s why you haven’t had much success.” She walked me to the door with a smile, reveling in the advice she’d given me.
I felt…punched in the gut. But…why? Hadn’t this woman just taken the time to give me career advice? Wasn’t she offering helpful insights into the publishing world? Why did I feel so…so…Colored? Black? Let down? Discriminated against?
Hmmm…Why was I so crushed?
I cried on my mom’s shoulders and told her she would have to meet with the editors from now on. I was done. I couldn’t do it anymore.
She declined. She didn’t, and doesn’t, suffer fools lightly. But I pulled away from chapter conferences. For a while, I pulled away from writing.
As always, I couldn’t stay away. I’d written my first story at 4, then tried to write a novel at 12. Writing was a siren’s call I had never been able to ignore.
Eventually, I moved into self-publishing. Wicked Allure was our first self-published title. It had moderate success. Months later, I was still pushing it, and began to contact blogs because we were starting book two and a prequel. We wrote pretty fast, so while bloggers were reviewing Wicked Allure, we would be completing Scandalous Allure and Wicked Addiction. The book is erotic, however low-keyed it might be in the suspense and action department. I specifically searched for bloggers who accepted erotic manuscripts.
Because Wicked Allure had been out over a year, we received a lot of rejection. Completely understandable. We took it in stride. Then, one day, I received an email that, in part, stated, we are not interested in reading those types of novels.
My first inclination was to apologize. Even with rejections, I tried to send editors and agents thank-you notes for looking at my project and/or responding.
“It’s their job!” you say.
Yes, it is. But that slush pile was a wicked beast. Unagented and/or unsolicited works were far down the line on publishing radars. These dedicated people do a billion things in a day. Even if I received a form letter, I was appreciative. They could’ve easily taken someone else’s blind submission.
Before I sent the apology to the bloggers, (perhaps I’d mistakenly chosen a blog that didn’t review erotic romances), I went to their blog. Half-naked men and women, explicit language, and graphic sex scenes dominated the site. Wicked Allure was the perfect candidate. Except, maybe not, because my characters were Black.
This stung as bad, or worse, than anything else I’d ever gone through in the romance industry. No, in day-to-day life as a Woman of Color in America. Yet, the publishing industry is particularly merciless.
Despite the fact, that as a sixteen-year-old in modeling school, the Director told me, “I tell all my Blacks to go to Chicago if they hope to work in the industry”; despite the fact that, as a child, another child looked at me and asked, “Are you a n****r”; despite the fact that as a grown woman, I was pushed to the back of an elevator by a group of men who allowed two women to get off them elevator before them, then made me go behind them so they could walk out next in a New Orleans office building.
Despite the fact, that as a magazine owner, I was told that “it took a little Black gal from Louisiana to come to Rosenberg to start a magazine”. Not girl. Not woman. Not lady.
Gal.
Despite the fact that, as Hurricane Katrina survivors, staying in a temporary home, we were told not to go in a certain direction, on the very road we were staying, because Klan members lived that way and held their meetings.
Despite the fact that, as a magazine owner, I was told to be careful when I chased ads in some places because there was Klan activity in the area.
Despite the impact of society’s views on my interracial relationship and biracial daughter.
And, despite all my other experiences, this blog, not reading those types of romances HURT.
Jesus Christ, I couldn’t win. What was this? What importance were any of my experiences in the great scheme of things?
Was it racism? But just what the fuck is racism in today’s society? Was it the blatant use of racial epithets? Was it perception?
Did racism even exist anymore?
Goddamn it, I felt as if I’d been subjected to racism but, maybe, I was just being too sensitive.
Hadn’t other writers told me Ms. Who-Let-The-Help-In had only been joking? Maybe, it was insensitive, but I know her and she is NOT racist.
Hadn’t other writers told me that the editor who told me she wouldn’t look at any work of mine if it didn’t feature Black characters, was giving me good, solid career advice?
It was 2013, and our world was unashamedly multicultural. These bloggers probably hadn’t even turned the book down because it had Black characters.
Hmmm.
Who knew? More to the point, who cared?
Only me. And, me hadn’t immediately told anyone about any of the incidences I’d had at these RWA chapter events. It was me who felt so insignificant that I couldn’t bring myself to even report the incidents because I don’t think it would’ve mattered. The RWA hierarchy wouldn’t have listened to me. Furthermore, me had brushed off the Black gal comment, even though I specifically advised hiring people to wear black face and serve guests at an event wasn’t a thing to do.
I stopped writing on book two of the series and the prequel.
But I couldn’t stop writing. Soon, Christopher Caldwell introduced himself to me. After advice from a writer friend, I decided not to show the ‘real me’. I wanted to be on the USA Today Bestseller’s list or the New York Times list. I wanted to write about bikers and murders and sex. I wanted to be relevant. So I chose a White avatar. Chose a birthday not my own. If I couldn’t be accepted as Black, why would I be welcomed as older? I teased and tantalized and pretended. Every August 6th, I cursed my ass for not choosing the month and the day of my actual birthday, if not the year.
In our ‘woke’ society, I felt…alone. Sometimes, even now, for one reason or another, I feel my differences. I’m still Black, and most of my couples are still  White. I write the stories that come to me. Besides, my books with African-Americans on the covers have always undersold all my other titles.  
At an event I attended, a hot model looked at me with distaste. I was...inebriated, to say the least, but so were my friends. He didn’t do that to them. AND no one else noticed.
I did. It is those subtle nuances that experience, confrontation, and being a Woman-of-Color in America, has taught me to pick up on.
I’ve seen his photos for sale. He would be perfect for an upcoming hero. But, in this, the power is mine. I would rather burn my fucking money, then to give him an opportunity to appear on one of my books.
No, I’m not a big deal—I’ve never listed. Whether I choose one of his photos won’t hurt him, but it does give ME satisfaction.
Okay, Woke People, to this I say you can’t see it because you have never lived it. You don’t understand how lines are crossed with in the most unobtrusive manner. It isn’t blatant. It isn’t overt. It isn’t obvious.
Still…it’s there.
Most of the models I’ve met have been down-to-earth and lovely. Yet, this wasn’t exclusive to the self-published world. I’ve had male models at writing events I’ve gone to, distant to me, when they welcomed other women. I’ve sat at dinner tables with seven other empty seats, while I was the lone occupant because I was given cursory glances before everyone walked on by.
I remained a member of the RWA until 2005. I merely stopped attending conferences and meetings.
Besides, ugly undercurrents aren’t strictly within RWA. It is in the publishing industry and is taken directly from our day-to-day lives. The RWA controversy just puts the issue at the forefront.
And what issue might that be? Racism?
Hmmm.
I have a very definitive answer to that question. But I also know for each experience I wrote about could be construed in a different context, to make it seem as if I am a disgruntled person-of-color, filled with nonsense and bitterness.
The travesty committed by RWA isn’t exclusive to them. The entire world could take a lesson or two on inclusion.
Take the time I was in a fashion show for a charity because I was in the community. My vitiligo, at that time, had me looking like an inverted raccoon. We were instructed to bring ourselves and be ready for the catwalk. Hair and makeup people were coming in to beautify us. The make-up artist assigned to me found everything else to do before she got to me. There came a time when she couldn’t ignore me any longer. I had to get out on stage. When she realized, she didn’t have powder or foundation to match my skin color(s), she was annoyed. “Did you bring your own makeup?” I was simply horrified as I told her ‘no. I was told we didn’t have to bring makeup.” She wasn’t amused, and, frankly, her attitude began to annoy me as well. Finally, she declared, “there’s nothing I can do with your face. Not bringing makeup was optional. You should’ve brought your own makeup because I don’t have colors to match your dark complexion.” She walked off.
I remained seated in the makeup chair, contemplating if I should walk out or not. But, I told myself, she was right. Her delivery could’ve been better, but I should’ve brought my own makeup. If it hadn’t been needed, at least I would’ve been prepared.
This was outside of the writing industry and I was still dealing with it.
But what was, is, it? Hmmm. Again, was this really racism? Or was it just a misunderstanding by a woman who was probably tired and frustrated by the time I sat in her chair.
What about the time I shared my grief with a therapist over the death of a beloved two-year-old? My therapist scolded me. “That’s a White child you’re crying over. They wouldn’t cry over you.” I begged to differ. “No, your mother is just their housekeeper. You’re the housekeeper’s daughter. That family doesn’t care about you. There are so many things to cry over, other than a White child.”
I was already in the midst of depression when I saw her. I was already grief-stricken. I even felt a little guilty because I’d thought to call my mother, then changed my mind because I figured she was dealing with the kids and would just say she had to call me in a few minutes. For so many months, I told myself had I called, things would’ve turned out differently.
My mother came home from work, and cried for weeks. Months. She couldn’t discuss my pain and grief because she was so heartbroken. I didn’t report my therapist. She was Black, by the way. Who was I supposed to report her to? And I was almost incapacitated with depression, grief, and sadness. Would anyone believe me if there was a way to report her? It would come down to she said-she said. I wasn’t emotionally or mentally available to engage in such a fight. I told myself they were only words and she was so wrong about how she saw the entire situation.
That day was the last time I ever set foot in her office.
The tragedy took place about three months after I’d been cornered by the woman wanting to know how could I write White characters as a Black person. It came about 6 weeks after pre-cancerous cell were found on my cervix and I had to have an operation. It happened roughly two months before my twentieth birthday. And, months later, when I finally found someone I could open up to, she scoffed at me.
I was so hurt and disillusioned because of my experiences at the writing conferences and because I couldn’t fathom why a sweet little angel had been taken away. I was done. Fed up with writing, with praying. With living. I was just miserable.
I attempted suicide.
When I read about how their ethics complaint was handled, I wasn’t too surprised. I had lived it, inside the writing community and outside of it. It did sadden me that the group had yet to come into the 21st century. Twenty years into the new millennium, it was supposed to be different.
For many, many years, I told myself my shyness, what I deemed as my biggest weakness, was the reason I’d had my experiences within RWA. If I hadn’t been so painfully shy, I would’ve had different experiences. If, when I had been a new member if what I saw as a prestigious group, I had stood up to the curious who commented on my presence, gawked at the fact I was young, Black, and literate, and stared at me like an alien when the found out what I wrote…If I had complained…if I had responded with anger and outrage instead of confusion and hurt…If I…
Wait, now. Hold on. I can hear the disagreeable voices. Why would you do anything different, since you didn’t experience anything but day-to-day living in America? Besides, you put yourself in the position of trying to break into an industry that was, is, notoriously hard to break into. Suck it up and deal with it. Who cares about people’s stupefaction at the fact that you not only spoke decently but could read and write?
In case you’re wondering: yes, these were actual comments made to me through the years at various writing events. The qualifier, and she’s so well-spoken too, had become tiresome by the time I removed myself from chasing a dream of having our books in stores again and on the bestseller’s list.
In other words, if it acts like racism and sounds like racism…most definitely doesn’t point to racism.
Truly, this makes me go hmmm.
As I close, I will end where I began—with my girls and the story I told them. It all began as walk-talk—holding conversations while we walked through our neighborhood for exercise.
Is there such a thing as reverse-racism, I asked, or is it only racism?
Have you ever felt uncomfortable in a situation due to racism?
What can be done to make the world a better place for everyone?
What can be done for us to see each other without skin color?
How much does race matter?
The questions went on and on. Finally, they asked me, what had I ever done to overcome racism, and do you think you’ve ever experienced it yourself?
Thus, I began the tale of the time a KKK member was a guest at our home. It was before they were born. And he only came because his wife forced him to, and he loved her. He was uncomfortable. He was upset. Many times, he looked downright angry. He’d sit on the porch gazing toward the St. Bernard Project. Excuse me, he’d stare at the St. Bernard. I wondered what went through his mind, so I asked him, “do you see a lot of differences between us?”
He told me that he saw some, but not many. “If my friends knew I was staying in this place with you people, they’ never talk to me again. I’d never be able to face them again.”
I rolled my eyes. “You’ve eaten with us. Laughed with us. Talked with us. And you still feel this way?”
He just shrugged and said, “You’re still Black, aren’t you?”
After that, I was done. I didn’t know what else to say. At twenty-two, I was still very shy and quiet.  When it came time to take pictures, he’d crouch behind everyone else. He really didn’t want his friends to know he’d been in a Black person’s house on friendly terms.
The night before they were heading out, he and my mom had a chance to talk. He mentioned if his friends were there, they’d go into one of the courts in the St. Bernard, waving their guns and watching how many of them would run.
My mom’s response? “So you’re only a racist when you have back-up?”
“I wouldn’t call myself a racist.”
“I wouldn’t either. I’d call you an ignorant sonofabitch.”
He snickered.
“Why did you come here if you feel as you do?”
“She wanted me to. So why did you let me stay here knowing how I feel?”
“We’re not the ones with the problem. You are. Why don’t you get your ass up and go through the St. Bernard right now, with your gun?”
“I ain’t stupid.”
“You just don’t have a brain.”
He glared at her, grabbed his beer, and stomped inside.
We never saw him again.
Which, I told my children, was on him. We allowed him into our house because, we, as a society, would never bridge the divide if we didn’t reach across the chasm and get to know each other. There would be no need to understand race, if we didn’t see color. Besides, in many ways, in the 90s, the world was so much more tolerant.
The fact of the matter is it isn’t getting racial in this piece. It is just still racial. Until we see people, this kind of tumult will always flare up. There needs to be real, honest talks in businesses, in churches, in schools, on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Someone needs to ask the questions, where do we begin? How can we start? A narrative must begin everywhere. Let it spill outside the boundaries of the Romance Writers of America.
Why am I sharing my experiences now? Because I want insight. We can't learn and grow, until we listen and consider other perspectives. Tell me what is your take on my experiences? Do you see it as racism or ignorance by people who really meant no harm?
I am sharing my experiences now because the subject of race has been dominating the news recently, more so than usual. Besides, I was once enamored of RWA, and all it represented, even with the many challenges I faced. In my heart of hearts, I believed there would come a day that an industry built on happily-ever-afters, communication, trust, openness, and relationships would get it right and show the world how it is done. Instead, it allowed the anachronistic ideologies that we still face to seep into its ranks.
We want a better, more diverse and inclusive RWA? We need to initiate such an incredible cultural movement in the whole wide world first.


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