“My Writing Process” Blog Hop!

I’d like to thank Katana Collins and Lena Hart for tagging me. Both ladies are friends and members of RWA-NYC. Soul Surrender, the final book in Katana’s paranormal erotic romance series, comes out in a couple of weeks and is available for pre-order. Because This is Forever, the latest from Lena Hart, is already available.

 1) What am I working on?

Right now I’m wrapping up a historical short for a project I’m working on with Lena Hart, Kate McMurray, and Stacey Agdern. It’s still a bit of a secret, so I can’t go into it too much, but I can say that we’re exploring some facets of history and romance that haven’t received much attention.

I’m also working on book 2 in my Civil War espionage romance series I’m shopping, and book 2 in my sci-fi/dystopian series. There is a lot of research going on, ranging from whether people wore underwear during the civil war to modern astrophysics.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I think my work is different because I’m kind of a weirdo. I mean that in a good way (and it’s taken about three decades to be able to mean it in a good way). I have a distinctive voice that comes through no matter what romance genre I’m writing in. Also, my work is very character driven, and I enjoy writing unconventional plots.

3) Why do I write what I do?






I write what I’m interested in,and my interests run a wide gamut. So far I’ve written about the Albanian mafia, a Hindu demi-god, the dystopian near-future, and multicutural historical stories. I love doing research, so often I’ll see something that catches my attention (like human trafficking or exploitative tabloid headlines), and then I think, “Where is the love story in this?” I love obscure knowledge, and getting to pepper my romance novels with it is a benefit of the job.

4) How does your writing process work?


Well, I’m not the type of writer who has conversations with her characters, so usually a story comes to me as the hero and/or the heroine being involved in some sort of “what if” situation (e.g., “What if one of those teachers being vilified by the press  was actually the victim of a vicious plot?”). Plots inspiration often stems from learning about an interesting situation in the real world, through meeting someone or reading something in the news or on a blog, and then thinking “You know what would be cool?” and starting to write. I think up story ideas ALL THE TIME, but the right combination of plot and character is necessary to get my butt in the chair and my fingers flying.

Research is a big part of my writing process. Whether I’m writing contemporary or historical, I try to make sure I know as much about a place/culture/event as possible before writing to better inform the development of character/story. I’m mostly a pantser, so research is my way of organizing. For example, in a historical, the plot has to follow a certain timeline, and knowing about the time period helps me to organize the book as a whole. Or in a contemporary, if I decide to incorporate something I’ve uncovered in my research, I can build the story out around that.

I often write a short summary (a couple of paragraphs), and then just add notes as they come to me—usually when I’m zoning out during my commute or in bed about to fall asleep.

Hopefully that made sense—it does in my head! Be sure to check out next week’s writer, the awesome Jill Sorenson!

Jill Sorenson writes sexy action/adventure romance for HQN. http://www.jillsorenson.com/blog/


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Monday Dose of Cuteness

When I’m visiting Mr. Cole, this is my writing buddy. She curls up next to me, always keeping an ear cocked my way to ensure I make no sudden moves, and brings me rats and birds to snack on when she thinks I need a break.


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Stereotypes, and Why They’re *NOT* Okay (In Two Vignettes)

So, the title of this blog post seems like it should be patently obvious, huh? Despite that, yesterday a fellow author tweeted something along the lines of “there’s nothing wrong with writing a stereotype, and if if you have a problem with them it’s *your* problem.” No one called her on this, and some people even favorited it.

I hate writing reactive blog posts, but ummm…yes, when you are a visible minority, it IS your problem. Is IS your baggage. I could rant about why this tweet was wrong until I’m blue in the face, but instead I thought I’d provide two vignettes from my life:


The year is 2004. I’m a college student in central New Jersey.  I’m still in the process of shedding my debilitating shyness, but I also need money. Working three jobs doesn’t leave much time, so when I see a job listing for a promotional model for a locksmith (yes, I know that’s random as hell), I apply. I get the job, and my first day out in the field I’m sent to the grand opening of a gym.

I approach a man who, in retrospect, looks like the country club asshole from an 80s film. He *acts* like a country club asshole from an 80s film, too.

“Would you like a free cup from {Whatever} Locksmith?” I ask with a smile.

He smiles back.

“Oh, that’s a big cup,” he says congenially. “Does it hold 40 ounces? Is that what you drink your malt liquor from?”

And then he walks away, leaving me standing there stupidly. I’m still holding the cup out and smiling when the implications of his words hit me.



The year is 2000. I am in Estonia (yes, I know that’s random as hell), visiting my boyfriend. We are at a cozy bar in Tallinn, sipping mulled wine as we prepare for a night on the town—we’re to meet some of his friends at a club called The Cave. I am probably the only black person in Tallinn at that moment, which is made painfully obvious by the way people stare and whisper. I can’t read lips, but more than once I make out a word that I hope is just my imagination.

As we leave to go to the cave, a large man holds the door for me. He has the build of a villain’s lackey in a romantic suspense. I smile at him and say thanks. He says nothing, until he runs up on me three blocks later.

“Nigger!” he shouts as he punches me in the face the first time. He shouts the same thing as he punches me again, before my boyfriend and his friends swarm and drive him away.

Now, where did Country Club Asshole get the idea that because I was black, I must enjoy chugging Colt-45s? Take a wild guess. Why would a dude in a country that had probably negative numbers of minorities feel that he knew enough about me to warrant punching me in the face? Take a wild guess. Yes, yes, I get that there’s some truth in stereotypes, but to act as if there’s nothing wrong with them, as if they are just benign ideas that have no bearing on the real world…that’s just stupid, full-stop.



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Today in Serendipitous Twitter Juxtapositions

Okay, you have to admit that this is pretty funny:

womp womp

BUT (*puts on professor glasses*): constant consumption of the description in the top tweet is what makes the soap sold in the bottom tweet something people think they have to buy. This is why multicultural romance is important, so that readers know that ivory skin isn’t the *only* complexion that is beautiful and valued.

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New Release: Sweet to the Taste


My erotic short story out at Amazon!



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Love, Brooklyn Style: Top 3 Unconventional Brooklyn Love Stories


Today I’m over at Heroes and Heartbreakers blog talking bout Love, Brooklyn Style. Love may not come easy in BK, but that doesn’t stop anyone from trying:

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to do a list of the top ten great Brooklyn love stories. “So many movies have been set here, this will be a cake walk,” I thought naively as I began to search. That’s the last thing I remember before waking up curled into the fetal position, the last strains of the Bee Gees’s “Staying Alive” blaring menacingly from my laptop…


Saturday Night Fever is a fun movie about dancing and love at the club, right? Um, wrong. WAY wrong. Most of us have been blinded by the bell bottoms, but that movie is about racial tensions, rape, and suicide. What about Crooklyn, one of my favorite childhood movies? While it definitely showcases the love of a family, the parents often fight and the mother’s death at the end (spoiler alert!) makes it too sad to even type about. Um…Goodfellas? One word (two syllables): KA-REN!! Sophie’s Choice? Let’s not even go there…

Read the rest here.

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Giveaway: I’ll Follow You Into the Dark: Romance with Dark Themes

Hey! I’m over at the wonderful K.M. Jackson’s blog talking about dark themes in romance and giving away a free copy of my book. Just leave a comment to enter!

Here’s a taste:

In general, when we read romance we’re trying to escape from the horrors of reality. We want to retreat to the safety provided by Scottish lairds and billionaire bad boys. But sometimes, we want something a little darker, a little grittier. We want our hero and heroine to really be put through the ringer, to get that vicarious thrill of danger and suspense as they struggle to find love in a hopeless place. (Rihanna knows what I’m talking about. Also, now you have that song stuck in your head. Mwahaha!) We’ll follow them along the tightrope of their story because the safety net of romance’s golden rule is always stretched beneath us: no matter what obstacles get thrown their way, the hero and heroine will make it to the other side, where a happy ending awaits them.

Read more here: http://kwana.com/2014/02/05/ill-follow-you-into-the-dark-romance-with-dark-themes-guest-post-from-alyssa-cole/

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