Dark Girls should have romance too

Mags was a hit when her cover came out a few months ago--all due to the amazing Kanaxa!

Mags was a hit when her cover came out a few months ago–all due to the amazing Kanaxa!

I don’t know if it’s a God thang or just an amazing coincidence that I chose to show Dark Girls (2011) as a text in my composition class this week.  I say this because just this past week Samhain Publishing released my historical romance that was partially inspired by Dark Girls. If you don’t know the film, it is a documentary that explores the colorism, or prejudice, that dark-skinned women face throughout the world.

I’ve always been interested in exploring a colorism theme because it has long been an integral part of Black life.  Some years ago, when I started to get back to my writing and I wanted to write about colorism in a contemporary romance, I pitched the idea to an editor.  She was very excited about my overall idea, but then said, I needed to make the hero and heroine the same shade. Or don’t mention it their color. She said: ”Oh no, we don’t deal with colorism in romance. It’s too painful. The conflict is good enough anyway. Better to stay away from all of that.”

I need to thank that editor because that comment was one more thing that nudged me toward writing the historical romance. I knew that colorism was something I could deal with in much more pointed terms if I dealt with how rampant and pernicious it was in the early 20th century.  It’s an issue that appears from the very first page of the first book, A Virtuous Ruby.  However in the second book in my series, it is Margaret Bledsoe as the heroine in A Most Precious Pearl who has lived colorism as a personal issue. Her hurt and pain as the darkest Bledsoe sister is the key source of her internal conflict. The story is, in part, about her struggle to  love herself so that she can be loved by Asa at the end of the story.

The film is not perfect, but I credit Dark Girls with bringing some healing to this issue in the 21st century.  Since I pitched in 2011, I have seen other writers in that same line take up discussions of colorism in their romances. To me, I saw a real turning point happen when I revealed the cover of A Most Precious Pearl. There was a great deal of approval and support for it. I was pretty stunned at the number of people who commented that they loved the cover.  I cannot have imagined such an overwhelming phenomenon happening even as briefly as 10 years ago. There has been change and I’m happy to see it.

So it may be that society is turning a corner on this issue.  I certainly hope so.  It’s time that we work past it. There are times when I still see some comments in some of my social media that make me wince.  However, it is clear to me that we all deserve love.  I certainly hope that some of you want to see how that love comes to fruition between Mags and Asa in their love story.

Robert L. Vann and the heroic face of Black journalism

The recent slippage in standards of The New York Times brings to mind the hero of my upcoming release, A Most Precious Pearl. Asa Caldwell, the hero of my story,  is a journalist and is heroic because he was relentless in bringing across a story from a diverse point of view–something we are sorely in need of today.

Asa is based on the many intrepid reporters who sought to get a story to publish a differing point of view in his newspaper. I situated Asa at  a real newspaper, The Pittsburgh Courier.   In the first decades of the twentieth century, The Pittsburgh Courier and The Chicago Defender were not just local–they became national newspapers.  Pullman porters on the railroad disseminated them to towns all across the South so that people would stay informed know that there were struggles going on everywhere and not just in their small towns.

Editor Robert L. Vann (pictured here), who helmed The Pittsburgh Courier for many years, who sought to let Black people in the south know of other working opportunities elsewhere and sowed the seeds for The Great Migration.  In Robert L. Vann of The Pittsburgh Courier: Politics and Black Journalism,  Andew Bunie puts forward a Robert Vann who wanted journalists like Asa Caldwell, to go to the front lines of World War I and cover the story of the poor and demeaning treatment of the Black soldiers who were sent there.  W.E.B. DuBois expressed the same point of view in The Crisis as well. Telling this story directly lead to the soldiers understanding they deserved better treatment when they returned to the United States.  Too many people think the seeds of the Civil Rights movement were sown in the 1950’s, but the insistence on better treatment started a long time before that–just after World War I. Journalists played a key  role in conveying this story–heroic indeed.

The insistence of Vann and his fellow editors that reporters “go out and get” the story makes me think that too many journalists are now too content to sit behind a computer screen.  Without diverse points of view the “danger of one story,” as Chimamanda Adichie discussed, increases. Without more diversity, esteemed newspapers like The New York Times will continue to slip in their standards and will continue to write half-hearted apologies and explanations for how they messed up.  I have many students who are still interested in entering journalism as a profession, despite the many changes in the field.  I hope to expose them to editors like Vann, who would surely encourage them to keep telling their stories and to get out from behind the computer to see the world for themselves–to confirm the necessity for multiple points of view.

A cover reveal and updates on the Migrations of the Heart series

On Tuesday, A Virtuous Ruby will be published.  I started this blog about two and a half years ago to discuss Ruby’s story and those of her sisters.  It’s hard to believe that the moment has come, but here it is! I appreciate any support you can give to bring this historical story to light.  In the meantime, because of my grandmother’s death, I have been behind.  So I would like to give you an update on Mags’s story, and officially reveal the cover for Nettie’s story.

A Most Precious Pearl is available for pre-order on all platforms: Amazon, Nook, Google Play, Kobo and iTunes.  The blurb:

Mags will be released on September 8, 2015

Mags will be released on September 8, 2015

Asa Caldwell returned from the Great War with nothing to show for it—as in nothing below his left knee. Forget about the journalism career he loved. His story is over. Done.

Yet he finds the strength to journey to Winslow, Georgia, to get Ruby Bledsoe Morson’s sister out of trouble. Before he can bring Mags Bledsoe home, though, a spate of mysterious attacks reawakens his investigative instincts.

During the war, Mags did her duty to God and country by stepping into a management role at the textile mill. Now she’s been shuffled back to the rank and file—and Asa has her hard-earned job. Not only is the infernal man doing everything wrong, her plan for revenge against the mill owner who lynched her childhood sweetheart is farther out of reach than ever.

As they clash over almost everything, Mags begins to set fire to Asa’s soul, bright enough to dim the memory of the killing fields of France. Enough to give him a new mission in life—to make her feel the same way.

 

 

And now for Nettie, the middle sister.  A Treasure of Gold, Nettie’s story, will release in November.  Her is her cover and the blurb:

Nettie will be out in November.

Nettie will be out in November.

 

Trusting in the One who orders her steps, Nettie Bledsoe is determined not to deviate from her route to the charity kitchen. Don’t stop for anything, her sisters say. Pittsburgh isn’t like Georgia, they warn.

Yet when low moans of unholy suffering drift from an alley, she can’t help but investigate. It’s a man. The most beautiful man she’s ever seen. Despite his scandalous reputation, something within her responds to his sinfully rich voice.

Jay Evans is trying hard to stay on the straight and narrow, and doesn’t want help from any church do-gooder. But until his wound heals, he needs help caring for his young daughter, Goldie. Especially since Nettie saw fit to fire Goldie’s barely competent nanny.

Despite their mismatched backgrounds, Nettie and Jay fight a losing battle against their growing attraction. But it’s only when Nettie is kidnapped that Jay realizes that if he doesn’t get her back safe and sound, his heart will shatter into uncountable pieces.

 

No links for Nettie yet.  I will keep you posted. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for following this blog and for your support!  I appreciate each and every one of you!