Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Holidays!

I've been quiet because NaNo was in November and then I've been deep in finishing it up. If you go to my Google Group, you can see what I've been working on (which is a continuation of Reconstructing Jada Channing). Also, I'm also a diva! Thank you! Anyway, I hope everyone is having a safe holiday season and I hope you have a new year! See you then!


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Help Verb Noire

Help Verb Noire, an independent publisher dedicated to providing a place for people of color to tell their own stories.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

2009 Lub-Dub Awards

Winner's List

best bbw: "Trolling Nights" by Savannah J. Frierson

author of the year: Savannah J. Frierson

Thank you for voting! Really appreciate it!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Reminder: Lub-Dub Awards

I'd put a link up previously, but this one is more in depth. If you all would be so kind as to vote for me...that would be awesome! You can submit your votes via e-mail to, and I bolded my name for easy finding. The deadline is today--I'd held off on purpose because it'll be fresh in your mind to do the voting today (that's how I operate anyway...)). Thanks in advance!

Best Hero :
Tim Capshaw in “Trolling Nights” by Savannah J. Frierson
Dorian Christensen in “Hostage to Pleasure” by Nalini Singh
Tyson Kincade in “Kincade’s Rose” by Aliyah Burke
Adrian Redwolfe in “In Blood and Worth Loving” by Marilyn Lee

Best Heroine :
Ashaya Aleine in “Hostage to Pleasure” by Nalini Singh
Faith Wheeler in “Tempting Faith” by Crystal Hubbard
Tamara Holifield in “The Blacker the Berry” by Lena Matthews
Miki Kendrick in “Go Fetch” by Shelly Laurenston

Best Alpha Male :
Fenris in “A Guardian’s Desire” by Mya
Dorian Christensen in “Hostage to Pleasure” by Nalini Singh
Adrian Redwolfe in “In Blood and Worth Loving” by Marilyn Lee
Russell Crichton in “The Blacker the Berry” by Lena Matthews

Best Vampire/Warewolf/Shape-Shifter :
Jace Archane in “A Kiss of Ashen Twilight” by Rae Lori
Freya Daniels in “A Guardian’s Desire” by Mya
Adrian Redwolfe in “In Blood and Worth Loving” by Marilyn Lee
Dorian Christensen in “Hostage to Pleasure” by Nalini Singh
Dante Grimaldi in “Dante’s Wrath” by Eve Vaughn

Best Author of the Year :
Savannah J. Frierson
Eve Vaughn
LaVerne Thompson
Lena Matthews

Best Publisher :
Liquid Silver Books
Red Rose Publishing
Parker Publishing

Life Time Achievement Award :
Marilyn Lee
Sandra Kitt
Eve Vaughn

Best Website/Fan-Group/Blog :
The Official Marilyn Lee Fan Club
Fans of Interracial Romance on Goodreads
Fans of Interracial Romance on Yahoo!
Interracial/Multiracial Romance Readers Group

Best Fan :
Caylah Walters
Shawnette from Goodreads
Danielle Hill

Best BBW :
“Eye of the Beholder” by Marilyn Lee
“Trolling Nights” by Savannah J. Frierson
“In Blood and Worth Loving” by Marilyn Lee

Best Contemporary :
“Trolling Nights” by Savannah J. Frierson
“Tempting Faith” by Crystal Hubbard

Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Paranormal :
“A Kiss of Ashen Twilight” by Rae Lori
“Starstruck: Hunter” by Michelle Lauren
“Hostage to Pleasure” by Nalini Singh
“The Alpha Promise” by Hayat Ali
“In Blood and Worth Loving” by Marilyn Lee

Best Erotica :
“In Blood and Worth Loving” by Marilyn Lee
“Beg for It” by Minx Malone

Best Historical :
“Badazz Daddy Squad: Ragnar” by Jeanie Johnson & Jayha Leigh
“After the Lies” by Mandessa Selby

Best Fight Scene :
“A Guardian’s Desire” by Mya
“A Kiss of Ashen Twilight” by Rae Lori
“Go Fetch” by Shelly Laurenston
“Hold On” by LaVerne Thompson

Best Love Scene :
“Hostage to Pleasure” by Nalini Singh
“The Blacker the Berry” by Lena Matthews
“Tempting Faith” by Crystal Hubbard

Best Choice to Become A Movie :
“Tempting Faith” by Crystal Hubbard
“The Megalodon Team Series” by Aliyah Burke
“Starstruck: Hunter” by Michelle Lauren
“Trolling Nights” by Savannah J. Frierson

Best Cover Art :
“Rendezvous with Fate” by Jeanne Sumerix
“A Kiss of Ashen Twilight” by Rae Lori
“Beg for It” by Minx Malone
“Pursuing Zarah” by Jennifer Cole

Best Short Story :
“Tempting a Wolf” by Tressie Lockwood
“Promises” by LaVerne Thompson
“Tempting Neal” by Marilyn Lee
“Your Local Handyman” by Stephanie Williams

Best Novella :
“Starstruck: Hunter” by Michelle Lauren
“The Blacker the Berry” by Lena Matthews
“Boss Man” by Marie Rochelle
“Beg for It” by Minx Malone

Best Novel :
“Trolling Nights” by Savannah J. Frierson
“Tempting Faith” by Crystal Hubbard
“Dante’s Wrath” by Eve Vaughn
“In Blood and Worth Loving” by Marilyn Lee
“Eye of the Beholder” by Marilyn Lee

Best Series :
“The Undead Series” by Emma Petersen
“The Tycoon Club Series” by Marie Rochelle
“The Drace Brothers Series” by Marie Rochelle
“The Megalodon Team Series” by Aliyah Burke
“The Three Sisters Series” by LaVerne Thomspon & Stephanie Williams

Best Story of the Year :
“Trolling Nights” by Savannah J. Frierson
“Tempting Faith” by Crystal Hubbard
“In Blood and Worth Loving” by Marilyn Lee

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Some News and Notes

If you're going to be in Charleston on September 29, 2009 @ 7PM, why don't you stop on by the Moja Festival and...I me? And if not you, someone you know? Thanks. :)

Also, if you can mosey on to The Lub-Dubs and maybe vote for the categories that feature me and then vote would be much appreciated. And, thank you to those who even did! Didn't expect that, and that's quite awesome.

This review of TROLLING NIGHTS is really kind of great. She almost makes me want to read my own book, and I RARELY do that after I finish one. I'm like an actor who can't watch a movie/show she's day I'll get over that...maybe...But it wasn't only that review. I got two other separate messages from readers about that book and my work in general, and that was just so great because the vacuum is strong some days, and I reckon God needed to remind me I'm doing what I need to do.

Tomorrow I'll be at the SORMAG Online Conference as a panelist for self-published authors and freelance editing. Feel free to stop by and ask me some questions. I would actually go on today because it focuses on readers. But they have discussions and topics that think are relevant for readers and writers at all stages.

And apparently I released a new book yesterday lol. I'm part of an anthology, so check it out as well! Shara & Friends Naughty Bites, Volume 4.

Monday, August 24, 2009

A Letter from My Mama

I got this letter back in 2005 when I graduated from college. It's dated August 24, 1989, and it's written by my mother commemorating my first day of first grade. And I can be honest and say I hadn't looked at that letter from that graduation day until March, when I moved back to SC and started this "new phase" of my life to be a writer, or at the very least a professional wordsmith. When I opened this letter, the first thing I noticed was my mother had beautiful handwriting. And then...the letter was twenty years old, and I wondered where the hell twenty years went. Then the fact I wanted to know what she was thinking when she wrote it...what she imagined for me and my sister even as she sent me skipping on to first grade. And I wondered if she would be happy and proud of me, proud of my sister, and wishing she were here to say so. I also noted she was probably triply emotional because only two days prior had been her birthday, and who knew three years later she'd be dead.

"Marching off to another era" is what she'd said of my six-year-old self. Twenty years later I'm doing the same; instead of her crying this time, it's I. But I can't run from her arms like I no doubt did going to my first-grade class; or run into them like I did after that first day of school. And then my sister never got the opportunity, and how just...unfair that is. But here we are, her two baby girls marching, one of us wondering if she'll ever get to that destination she's had her eye on since junior year in high school, and the other still looking at the map to figure out where she wants to go. But hopefully Mama's marching with us. Hopefully we'll march as fiercely as she did, the majorette she was, as regally as she did, as beautifully as she did.

The letter is hanging on my wall, the only thing hanging on my wall in my bedroom. And I read the words she said to me 20 years ago. And I love her and I miss her.

I'd wished my sister a happy birthday on Mommy's birthday, because without hers we certainly wouldn't have ours.

Mommy would've been 59...I think she wouldn't have looked a day over 39. And apparently she passed that gene onto my sis and me, because I'm really not at that age where I can appreciate being thought of as still in high school when I've so been there and done that!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Available Now: Rerelease of AJ'S SRENDIPITY

In conjunction with Aliyah Burke's latest release from her Megalodon Series Dimitri's Moon also Available Now!

Available Now!

Greek Alejandro Melonakos hadn't been shopping for the love of his life during a routine market run for his restaurant, yet that was exactly who he found. The petite and curvy American Samara Grossman had captured his heart upon his first sight of her and he hadn't wanted it back—just hers in return. Will AJ be able to convince Samara they were meant to be together during her five-day vacation in Athens, or will his serendipitous find be all for naught?

The release features a new cover and an extra chapter for readers to enjoy!

Also get this and other titles in Kindle Format! For more, visit SJF BOOKS!

Friday, August 07, 2009

Ask the Character: Benjamin Drummond (8/09/09 @ 4PM EST)

Hi, all,

I'm starting up an institution on my Web site--Ask the Character. I'm not sure if it'll be once a month or bi-monthly, but I'm going to start with Benjamin Drummond from Being Plumville. To my knowledge, he's willing to answer any questions posed; he just won't guarantee you'll get a satisfactory answer! Anyway, I'm going to start the chat @ 4PM EST at my Web site on Sunday, August 9. I hope you can make it and armed with questions!

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Re-Release of AJ'S SERENDIPITY! (08/17/09)

In conjunction with Aliyah Burke's latest release from her Megalodon Series Dimitri's Moon dropping August 15, 2009.


Greek Alejandro Melonakos hadn't been shopping for the love of his life during a routine market run for his restaurant, yet that was exactly who he found. The petite and curvy American Samara Grossman had captured his heart upon his first sight of her and he hadn't wanted it back—just hers in return. Will AJ be able to convince Samara they were meant to be together during her five-day vacation in Athens, or will his serendipitous find be all for naught?

The release features a new cover and an extra chapter for readers to enjoy!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Publishing and the Privileging of White Expression

As a primarily self-published author, I take on a lot of the responsibilities of a more mainstream publishing conglomerate. I have to, obviously, do my own writing; do my own editing (with some pitfalls, admittedly, because I cannot catch everything myself despite my best efforts); my own book covers; my own book pricing; and, most importantly, my own promotion. The actual formation of the book is the easy part, funnily enough; the promoting my book is a smidge harder. There’s the belief self-published books are by authors who “can’t hack it” or aren’t good/talented enough, so they’re immediately regarded as, if not outright trash, “less than” those who could get through those “pearly” mainstream publishing gates. Let it be known that yes, I would love to have the same reach as books with mainstream publishers can achieve, but I don’t necessarily need the mainstream publisher to go with it. If not for the other perks I could get by being a more mainstream-published author (access to more distribution channels, access to writing associations that provide healthcare), I’d consider that route as less than a necessity and more of a “do it if you want.” Then again, I am probably already there more than I realize. I like the freedom I have from total control over my product, even if that means I shoulder all the responsibility, and I’m a little frustrated I can’t get my product into as many hands as I would like or people dismiss it solely because I put it out myself and not because they disliked the story. And then I realized people would be dismissing it even if it were in every Barnes and Noble and Borders and Books-a-Million this country had to offer.

I’m a black author who writes about black women; and not only that, many of these black women 1.) don’t hate the fact they’re black, 2.) are involved with nonblack men, 3.) don’t hate black men.

And, of course, the only people who care to read about black women are other black women, obviously; and since only about five black women in the whole country read (if you go by mainstream publishers’ insinuations), then why put any money behind those stories, anyway? If you’re not writing something that’s salacious, overly heavy and deep ala Toni Morrison, or minimizes the “Negro Factor”, then your book will not enjoy the same amount of support as your white counterparts. Not only that, if a white author can write a similar story, his/her account will be “more authentic” than yours, because stories by white authors, no matter what the color of the characters, are always more universal than stories by Authors of Color (AoC), no matter what color the characters (and goodness help the AoC who writes about white characters)…especially if these stories are love stories.

Which are what I write.

When my first book came out, I was on a plane returning to Boston after having my very first book signing in my hometown. I was sitting beside a very happy white man (he’d been imbibing a bit), but he was chatty and friendly, and I told him I was an author. Never mind that being the first time I ever uttered those words out loud and actually meant them, but his eyes had perked up and he asked to see the book. I gave him the only copy I had on me, knowing I would get it back. He flipped through to the middle and began to read. After a few moments, he then pulled out a fifty, gave to me, and demanded I autograph “his” book. And then for the rest of the plane ride we started talking about race relations and how things have changed or haven’t, and it wasn’t those conversations where he was “challenging the authenticity of my experiences”, but an honest-to-goodness dialogue. It was the first time I realized my stories really could be universal, because I can admit this white man’s face was not among the ones I saw in the audience for whom I’d been writing. By this point, my novel had been rejected several times, one letter even going so far as to say I mentioned race too much, even though the potential agent knew the story was about a black girl and white boy who were former childhood friends reunited on a newly integrated college in 1960s Georgia.

Good luck trying to avoid mentioning race often in that story!

But it wasn’t just the white man who surprised me. It was the white women who’ve e-mailed me and said how much they just loved this book and asked to put it in their libraries; it was my white teachers from high school in South Carolina who just looked at me in amazement and couldn’t stop raving about this story. It was the black men at the book fairs who would talk me to death about the book and its relevant themes while holding it in a ninja grip. It was the black boys who saw their mama/sister/aunt in Coralee and really liked the book. It’s the white boy who, after hearing discussions about it, said he was going to buy it because the story sounded interesting.

Thank goodness I’d started self-publishing, or else I doubt I would’ve gotten to see all of this for myself. I would’ve been shuttled off into the “black sections of the bookstores”, the sections that are as far from the entrance and tucked around a corner so that nobody but those who know what they’re looking for will ever find it. I actually talked to someone from Borders Corporate about that, and she…couldn’t give me an answer. Not that it surprised me. There are arguments for and against having an African-American section and having books integrated into the bookstore as a whole. But the convenience of the section aside, I, as an author, don’t want my books separated like that. It’s like a big ole “blacks only” sign that apparently doubles as a force field to prevent those who don’t meet the melanin threshold barrier from entering the section or something. I don’t think I’ve ever in my life seen a white person come to that section whenever I’ve gone into bookstores unless they’re getting Zora Neale Hurston or Richard Wright for their kids’ English classes. And then this whole business about being “tricked” into reading black books because the cover wasn’t clear? I know all books I see have at least dust-jacket or back-cover blurbs, and if the blurb was good enough to pull you in…I don’t understand why the actual color of the characters can make a reader flip the script. Was it because these white readers really could relate to stories about black characters—especially romances? Did you know black women liked to be held tenderly? That black women liked to be courted and wooed? That black women do have jobs other than wearing a polyester uniform and taking someone’s order? That black men really do run companies they created from the ground up and then don’t run after the first white/nonblack woman they meet once they’ve made it? That black men still are attracted love black women? That black people can have healthy, loving relationships? That white/Asian/Native/Hispanic men of all races can be attracted to love a black woman without fetishizing her? That this same premise applies when the couples are same sex as well?

But there are some major “politics of respectability” going on in “black imprints” for mainstream publishers. Some of the guidelines include “heroine must not be involved with anyone but the hero; couples must use condoms; heroine isn’t allowed to get pregnant without being married or engaged”, and I’m thinking, not even white women in novels have to adhere to such strict rules! I don’t know how many “Secret Baby” stories Harlequin publishes in a month. But if the black characters don’t, it’s suddenly “street lit”, which has its own problematic connotations about suspected quality of the writers and its readers (i.e., mostly and unfairly negative, even if I don’t read street lit myself). But this either/or dichotomy over what kind of stories black authors at mainstream publishers are allowed to tell are exactly why many of us aren’t accepting any old contract we get from them. That we’re putting our books out ourselves. Because after four hundred years of not being able to say a damn thing, like hell I’m not going to say what I want and how I want now. But the publishing industry/media at large continues to have its “Time to Kill” moments and put white faces on black stories or insert white people in stories not about them, as if “White folks, or it didn’t/doesn’t happen/matter!” is the appropriate business model in a world that is certainly not majority white and, in the case of the United States, in a country that is headed by a nonwhite family and will increasingly not be nonwhite in the next few decades. The default universal experience has not been, nor will it ever be, “white”. And, sure, people have the right to write whatever they want, which includes white people writing nonwhite characters (though there doesn’t seem to be the same regard for nonwhite authors writing white characters); but when those white authors get a larger share of the market telling my stories, I just have to echo Ms. Mahalia Jackson: “How come, mister, you think you can tell me about that old song, when it was born in my mouth?”

I can carry a tune. I can sing just fine.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Some FYIs

1.) I have a blog post brewing about white authors writing about black characters...and why white authors who write about black characters get a larger market share than black authors writing black characters; and why black authors who write about white characters would probably have to self-publish it before a "mainstream" publisher puts out the story. Yeah, it'll be long and involved and probably won't be up for a couple more days.

2.) I have books in Kindle Format now, including the just-released "I'll Be Your Somebody". Check them out and for those who have a Kindle, please tell me how they look!

3.) I have Twitter. I think this platform will get me into even more trouble than I really need to be in, but I've been told it's a good marketing tool. We'll see.

4.) Been editing like crazy. If you're interested in my services, hit me up at

5.) I have a release coming out in August. Hint: You've read it before. :)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Available Now!: "I'll Be Your Somebody"

IBYS Cover

During her tenure as the unofficial official gatekeeper of the Femme Crew, Bevin Moore found love in Trolling Nights. Can her best friend Rosita do the same?

As the self-coronated queen of Trolling Nights, Rosita Velez has one edict: men are only good for one night, maybe two if she were feeling particularly benevolent. Yet somehow, her latest lover manages to stick around for one night...then two...then three...then four...and suddenly Rosita finds herself in the midst of a romantic coup, facing a decision that will change her life forever. Will Rosita abdicate her crown, or will she continue her reign of the one night stand?

This book is available at my storefront and in Kindle Format. I hope you enjoy!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Coming Soon: "I'll Be Your Somebody"

During her tenure as the unofficial official gatekeeper of the Femme Crew, Bevin Moore found love in Trolling Nights. Can her best friend Rosita do the same?

Be Your Somebody Cover

As the self-coronated queen of Trolling Nights, Rosita Velez has one edict: men are only good for one night, maybe two if she were feeling particularly benevolent. Yet somehow, her latest lover manages to stick around for one night...then two...then three...then four...and suddenly Rosita finds herself in the midst of a romantic coup, facing a decision that will change her life forever. Will Rosita abdicate her crown, or will she continue her reign of the one night stand?


(c) 2009 by Savannah J. Frierson

The readout was missing a few letters. They spelled “Not”, as in “Not Pregnant”.

There was not a sound to be heard, a breath to be breathed, a pulse to be pulsed. Rosita and Bevin stared at each other, she on the commode and Bevin on the side of the tub. Her best friend’s golden eyes dropped to Rosita’s midsection.

Lawdhavmercy,” Bevin rasped.

Rosita dropped the stick as if it had shot up a thousand degrees in one second and scrambled off the toilet. She stared wide-eyed at it, her mind telling her she’d suddenly become illiterate, that she did not read what she just read.

No puedo leer en inglés,” Rosita muttered.

The shocked expression on Bevin’s midnight-hued face melted into one of amusement. “Yes, you can read English. Very well, in fact. Welcome to the club, Rosita.”

Rosita glared at Bevin, two seconds away from sticking out her tongue and cussing her out in fluent Spanish, when a knock on the door made them both jump.

“Damn! What?” Rosita snapped.

“Uh, are y’all okay in there?”

Rosita’s nostrils flared in frustration while Bevin’s flared for an entirely different reason. Rosita sucked her teeth and rolled her eyes. “Hussy.”

Bevin glanced down at the stick, then raised an eyebrow at her friend. “Pot, kettle, innit?”


“We’re fine, baby,” Bevin called to her husband, taking a few squares of toilet paper to pick up the stick and throw it in the trash. “You need to use the bathroom?”


“Where’s my child?”

“With his godfather.”

“Is my child still alive?”

“Bevin,” came the sigh, and Bevin grinned, washing her hands.

“All right, my love, we’re on our way out,” she promised, cutting off the water and drying her hands on one of the towels. Bevin opened the door and giggled as Tim gathered her close and gave her a gentle kiss on the mouth.

Rosita pretended she didn’t notice any of this as she washed her hands as well, her heart squeezing at the possibility that could be her one day. Her and…

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Identity Crisis?

I need to preface this by saying I understand that not every reader will enjoy every book I write; however, I went onto Amazon and responded to a reader who appeared to take issue that my writing is all over the place, and that two different writers wrote BEING PLUMVILLE and TROLLING NIGHTS--the latter of which received 2/5 stars by a reviewer who also gave BEING PLUMVILLE a stellar review. I responded to the accusation by accepting the charges, so to speak. I DO write differently depending on how the characters come to me--I don't really have a "method" so to speak, other than listening to my characters and following where they want to go--because believe me, trying to do differently does not end well! On the other hand, I know there is a certain amount of risk implementing that writing style, one that will earn me the two not-so-great reviews I receieved. I am disappointed I could not provide these readers a product they could enjoy, and I probably broke some cardinal rule trying to "defend" my characters to them. And yet even as I did so, I was not very surprised by some of the objections, and more upset with myself I couldn't/didn't convey what I was trying to convey through these characters...or wondering if I DID convey what I was trying to convey, and the readers didn't like it. I don't know. This is yet another chapter of my ongoing dilemma--what the devil am I writing?! It's apparently not romance; I don't think it's commercial fiction. The only thing I know I am writing are love stories--at least I'm trying to do so. And I do not want to dismiss those who do enjoy what I write. Know my market. One day I'll figure out what that market is, because I can assure you my characters certainly do not care about it! They just want their stories told, and they chose me to do it.

To whom am I accountable? The market, or them?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Partial Career Update

I had a really good time at the book signing I attended two weeks ago. I didn't sell much, but the people I met were wonderful, and it was good to see so many self-published out there--and not just self-published, but bonafide publishers of their own. It was inspirational, truly. It was one of the best experiences at a book fair I have had. And now there's an article about African-American Romance and how people are finally waking up to the fact that black people/women read and voraciously, and that our stories...aren't as typical as the "mainstream", and that "our romanace" ain't like "theirs", and yet it is.

Pushing at boundaries, baby.

Which is probably why I am struggling through the end of a novel I am writing because it's taking very many twists and turns to get to the ending I see. I am a fly-by-your-seat writer because I let the characters do what they will. The times I've tried to force them in the direction I want them to go...they've never ended well. So I'm just a reporter on the insanity that is my mind and L'Hotel Characters Who Don't Know What the Devil They Want Other Than a HEA. So, I've been writing...other things that aren't so twisting and turning and angst-filled and heavy. I've gotten great response for it, but I still chug away at the novel.


So, as I've been "unemployed" since February, I'm shifting more of my focus on manuscript editing. I just finished a project for Aliyah Burke and I have at least three more to work on for her; as well as Shara Azod offering me work on some projects for her, and Jeanie Johnson and Jayha Leigh wanting me on tap for them once their publishing house gets off the ground. I'm truly, truly grateful for this, and I am also a little anxious. Editing someone else's work is nerve-wracking, especially because it's someone else's. I try my hardest to go a good job, but those times you don't...everyone notices. I want to lower the rate of those instances significantly, because the one time I didn't it turned into a fiasco that almost led me to severing relationships with people I truly admire and respect. I know life is like that, but that part of life ain't the business at all!

I also have to think of my own writing career--the above novel aside. I have another novel that, like I said in a previous post, that everyone in the romance industry who judged it tore into smithereens. Now I have to wonder if I should just scrap the entire idea or self-publish it on my own. Like the above novel, this one goes into some very "don't be going there!" territories in the romance genre. And maybe I just need to reread it again or...a fresh pair of eyes should read it. It got great response when I had it up on my Google Group, but, I don't know...yet, I do have a few others I could release. Then again, there are other avenues of publication and I should never forget those. I have to keep trying and not get so comfortable in DIY. And...I need to get more comfortable at DIY too! However, I'm getting dangerously low on my "already written" cache.

Hence the need for me to finish up that novel. And Felix's Story. And too many other stories I've started and haven't looked at in months...maybe years. You'd think with all this "free time" I have I'd know how to be more productive. But if my muse ain't there, he ain't there.

*please come back muse, please!*

I think the solution is to leave my house, not even take my computer, and handwrite. We'll see if I do that. But if I pretend I'm "going to work" (although, I am), I'll be more productive than staring at the same more-than-four walls of my apartment (have I mentioned I love my apartment? Yes!).

Yay, early Saturday-morning purges!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Where I'll Be This Weekend--Atlanta, GA

Yes, I'm one of the authors. :)

May 30th, 2009 promises to be a full-day literary experience, starting with Book Marketing Mastermind Session Breakfast Buffet from 9:30-11:30 a.m. at Wyndham Garden Hotel, 175 Piedmont Ave. NE, Atlanta 30306.
Admission: $25 Breakfast Only/$40 for Full Day Pass

Breakfast includes a marketing and promotion brainstorming session.

*Readers: Please note FREE book inc. with Full Day Pass AND Uptown Admission tickets ONLY.

Next, we'll take the hotel shuttle ($5.00 R/T) to the Peachtree Branch Library, 1315 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta 30309 from 12:30-2 p.m. for readings by authors (including, but not limited to):

  • Gail McFarland (Summer Wind, The Best for Last, When Love Calls, Lady Killer, All for Love, Dream Runner and If Ever)
  • Diane Dorcé (Loving Penny, Devil in the Mist, Bloggers' Delight and 54 Broad Street)
  • Ja Adams (Chameleon, Purple Haze and Unfinished Business)
  • Brooklyn Darkchild (This Ain't No Hearts and Flowers Love Story, Part 1 and 2)
  • Jean Holloway (Ace of Hearts and Black Jack)
  • John R. Williams (The Reunion, C.E.L.L., Daddy and Me, What Could Have Been; the Saint, the Sinner, and the Attempt)
  • Danyelle Scroggins (Not Until You're Ready)
  • TL James (Mpire: In Search of the Lost and Mpire: Death Cometh)
  • Sharon Oliver (Keep Your Enemies Closer, Deliver Me From My Enemies)
  • DeiIra Collard-Smith (Love, Lust & a Whole Lotta Distrust and Secrets, Sins and Shameful Lies)

Final stop: The 'Quadruple A' (African American Authors in Atlanta) Literary Event from 3-7 p.m. at The Uptown Restaurant & Lounge, 201 Courtland St., Atlanta 30303.

Authors & readers will get to meet and mingle (and buy or sell, of course.) I will have more details on the author lineup as they come in. There will be light hors'dourves and a cash bar.

All three venues are within a 5 mile radius! Please come enjoy the day with us.
The Uptown Restaurant & Lounge - General Admission: $25

Readers: Admission includes one (1) personally autographed book from the attending author of your choice. Authors are donating book giveaway, but if one runs out, please have a second choice.

Thinking of coming from out of town? Please let me know ASAP. I've worked a deal ($89/night, King or double Queen) with the Wyndham Garden Hotel which is walking distance to The Uptown Restaurant & Lounge. You will also be able to use the hotel shuttle ($5.00 R/T) to and from the club.

Tell everyone you think would be interested. The venues are sharp! I'm excited!
Questions? Please contact me via email with 'Quad A' as the subject.
Jean Holloway

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

RWA Writing Contests


I've entered two different RWA-affiliated contests, and both of them basically said I suck as a writer. More importantly, nobody liked Vietnam Story at all, which I understand because it's not a very...traditional romance. Then again, none of my stories follow those "romance novel" rules.

Oh, well. I may have to set that aside even more to see what I ultimately want to do with it. Figure out how to distill the critiques with out destroying the story. Sometimes it's hard to determine which is legitimate critique and just someone not liking your style as a writer. I'm still learning how to make that distinction.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Chat Tonight @ IMRR!

I'll be chatting tonight with IMRR Book Club about Trolling Nights at 9 PM EST. I hope you can make it!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

New Release: Trolling Nights

What if a Navy SEAL has six months to convince a wary coffeehouse barista they were made for each other?

Trolling Nights Cover

For as long as there have been Trolling Nights, Bevin Moore has been the unofficial official Gatekeeper for her group of friends, the Femme Crew. She is always the designated driver and always makes sure the ladies do not leave the premises with someone she considers a loser. Bevin takes her job very seriously, even if she doesn’t like Trolling Nights in the first place. Yet on one particular Trolling Night, she's completely unaware someone has, finally, chosen her.

Navy SEAL Timothy Capshaw has no problem going after what he wants; and from the moment he sees Bevin sitting alone and sentry-like in a booth, he is intrigued by her. After one dance, Tim knows he wants her. How will he convince Bevin he is the man she hasn't known she's been looking for and that the need for her Trolling Nights is over?

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Why Y'all Should Go to My Google Group

Because I have two ficlets there pertaining to the upcoming TROLLING NIGHTS release, that's why!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

More Than a Summer Love (Formerly NaNo '08)

I decided to turn my NaNo from last year into my free read for this year. You can go to my Google Group and check out subsequent chapters. I try to update every Sunday. This story is more than just about a summer love, and that fact snuck up on me with a quickness. It's very organic and it's hitting on things I never thought I'd tackle. I won't give it all away, but hopefully you'll want to check it out and enjoy.

For a refresher, here's an excerpt from Chapter 1.

More Than a Summer Love (c) 2009, 2008 by Savannah J. Frierson

Charleston, SC—Summer 2000

The bass from the music and the laughter of the partying crowd was muted as the sounds trickled outside to the silent quad where two teenagers, a boy and a girl, sat on the high, oversized bench in their dance attire. They didn’t look at each other, but at the silver light of the lamp in the distance mixing with the strobe lights dotting the path and grass from the revelry inside. The girl sat with her knees to her chest, the skirt of her burgundy dress long enough to allow the position while he sat hunched over his knees, his tie undone and hanging limply around his broad neck. A slight breeze fell upon them, and it made her shudder. Sensing her brief discomfort, the boy sat up and finally glanced in her direction. She kept her eyes forward, though both knew she was aware of his gaze; and when he draped his high-school letterman jacket around her shoulders, both knew she blushed even though the light was dim and she’d ducked her head.

He hadn’t removed his arm from around her after giving her his jacket. Instead, he’d sidled up to her, making sure she’d be good and warm by sharing his body heat with her. She still didn’t look at him, but both gave internal, relieved sighs when she snuggled into his body. This was the first time all summer they didn’t care what other people thought of them being together like this, showing more affection than mere friends ever should. Maybe because tomorrow everyone would go home.

She hid her face into his shoulder and let out a shaky breath. His other hand came up to smooth down her soft, thick hair.

“Ebony,” he whispered, his lips against her temple.

She closed her eyes and clutched his white dress shirt, feeling his chest muscles bunch underneath her hand. He’d never said her name with such reverence . . . such wistfulness. The lump in her throat made it impossible to say his name in return.


“Ebony,” he said again, this time pulling back so his index finger could tuck underneath her chin and raise her head so their eyes would meet for the first time since escaping the dance. Ebony wished there were more light so she could fully see his brandy eyes and the freckles that lightly dotted the bridge of his pale nose.

“Come with me.”

She knew it was a question even though he’d said it as a statement. The lump grew larger in her throat, so she could only nod her assent.

The majority of the people were downstairs at the dance, and the counselor who was manning the residential halls was snoring up a storm at his reception desk. They stopped on her floor, the fourth floor; the boys’ floor was a level below. Ebony pulled the key out the clutch of the purse dangling on her wrist, and soon they were in her room. The way the dorm was set up was there was a common area with a single on either side. Ebony was staying with a girl from Florence—she’d been really nice—and she’d also had many male visitors after hours. This was the first time Ebony would have one, but she doubted it’d be the same type of host her roommate had been.

Liam pulled off the jacket, leaving her arms and shoulders exposed once more. She saw him drape it on the back of her chair from the corner of her eye, and Ebony slipped out of her shoes as she made her way to sit on the bed. Liam didn’t come any closer to her, just stood by her chair, his large, brawny body taking up so much space and making the tiny room feel even smaller. His hands were in the pockets of his khakis. She knew he was clenching them because the muscles of his forearms tensed and relaxed.

“Why are you nervous?” she asked, though the question sounded much sillier out in the universe than it ever had in her head. The question was painfully rhetorical—this was the first time they’d been alone alone. There weren’t any friends or books or teachers or dinners or adoring fangirls to distract them from the thing that had been building since he’d helped her carry her trunk of desk lamps, books, iron, pillows, and linens up to her room their first day here at SSGSC—Summer School for the Gifted of South Carolina.

It was Ebony’s turn to fidget, breaking eye contact with him and looking at her butter-pecan hands. They trembled, and she mimicked Liam’s nervous tick and clutched them tightly in her lap.

“Why are you?”

She wouldn’t tell him because she felt as buzzed as a lit-up neon sign by his presence, always had, but now was forced to confront it. Her dress was suddenly itchy, restricting, and she wanted to change, but she didn’t want him to leave.

She heard him approach and the bed dipped under his substantial mass. Ebony tensed at his nearness, especially when his breath brushed her bare shoulder seconds before his lips did. She sighed and closed her eyes, her head automatically tilting away from him to expose her neck to his traveling mouth. A hand slid to her stomach, and her fingers uncurled so she could touch his knuckles.

“You smell good,” Liam murmured against her flushed skin. She jumped when moisture touched her. “Taste good too.”

Ebony couldn’t believe what was happening. Of all the scenarios that had run through her mind, none of them included actually acting out on . . . whatever had been brewing between them. Even now she was thinking of ways to minimize the meaning of his mouth on her body, but when his lips drifted up her jaw to her cheek, her brain shorted.

Liam’s forehead rested against her temple, their fingers now intertwined against her stomach. Ebony couldn’t remember when that had happened, but his thumb caressing hers gave her just enough sanity so she could breathe.

“I wish you lived in Charleston.”

Ebony sighed and leaned her temple into Liam’s forehead even more. He moved and pressed his lips against her skin. “I wish you didn’t have to leave.”

She would, though. Her mother had said she’d be down bright and early tomorrow morning so they could get the van back to the church on time. In fact, her room now looked just as bare as it had when Liam had first helped her with her belongings, save for her linens still on her bed. Her mother had thought him a nice white boy at the time, though Ebony hadn’t understood then why her mother had even mentioned his color.

Now she thought she did.

“Who’s gonna keep me in line when you’re gone?”

Ebony laughed at that, that uncomfortable tension broken by their failsafe use of humor. She turned her forehead to his and they smiled at each other, his hand drifting atop her head to the bun at her nape. They stared into each other’s eyes, but then tears sprang into hers, so she closed them.

His lips were barely discernable as he kissed each slip of moisture from her cheek. Ebony was glad she sobbed with dignity, even if what she really wanted to do was howl into his chest and never let him go.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Trolling Nights: April 1, 2009

What if a Navy SEAL has six months to convince a wary coffeehouse barista they were made for each other?

Trolling Nights Cover

For as long as there have been Trolling Nights, Bevin Moore has been the unofficial official Gatekeeper for her group of friends, the Femme Crew. She is always the designated driver and always makes sure the ladies do not leave the premises with someone she considers a loser. Bevin takes her job very seriously, even if she doesn’t like Trolling Nights in the first place. Yet on one particular Trolling Night, she's completely unaware someone has, finally, chosen her.

Navy SEAL Timothy Capshaw has no problem going after what he wants; and from the moment he sees Bevin sitting alone and sentry-like in a booth, he is intrigued by her. After one dance, Tim knows he wants her. How will he convince Bevin he is the man she hasn't known she's been looking for and that the need for her Trolling Nights is over?


Tim Capshaw dangled the bottleneck between the index and middle fingers of his right hand, staring intently at the booth where the singular young woman with a curly bob stared sentry-like onto the dance floor. Tim wasn’t exactly sure why his eyes had stopped on her during his slow casing of the joint, but they had. Maybe it was because she looked so out of place—and it wasn’t because she was one of the few black bodies in the building. It was her rigid posture; the fact her black top covered more than exposed; and the fact there was an empty three-foot radius around her that was rarely broken by anything other than women or servers who would chat her up for a few seconds then leave her alone again. She didn’t seem sad or depressed, either, which further intrigued him. She looked comfortable in her skin, and to Tim, that was sexy as hell.

There was a continuous hum of sound in his left ear, and Tim realized it was from a slim redhead who had one of the most stunning pairs of blue eyes he’d ever seen, but a body with more angles than a stop sign. Tim gritted his teeth and took another swig of his beer. Her interest wasn’t reciprocated, unfortunately, but he would give her a B+ for effort.

“Ah, you found her,” the redhead said, pointing toward the black woman he’d been watching earlier. “If you go over there with a drink or something, chat her up, then I’m sure she’ll give you permission to take me home tonight.” The redhead ran her tongue over her bottom lip in what he assumed was supposed to be a provocative gesture. Tim took another sip from his beer so he wouldn’t laugh in her face.

“Is she your mother or something?” he asked dryly, his Alabama drawl almost sprawling as the alcohol started taking effect. He looked at the redhead with a raised eyebrow. “Your sponsor?”

Her eyes fluttered and her cheeks turned red. He grinned. The woman was much cuter when she blushed.

“Nothing like that,” she assured him, resting her hand on his muscular forearm. He watched her painted-red nails catch some of the dim amber light in the bar as she flexed her fingers. He switched his bottle from his right to left hand, the muscles underneath her fingers cording when he gripped the bottle. This time he didn’t hide his smile when she unsuccessfully stifled her whimper.

“Who is she, then?” Tim asked, staring at the redhead when he really wanted to look back at the booth.

“Our gatekeeper.”


“She keeps the losers away from us.”

He raised his eyebrows. “And what makes you think I’m not a loser?”

“Other than the fact I know you wear a trident?” she asked, her blue-eyed gaze roving slowly over his form while her fingers caressed his forearm. “You don’t have the look of a loser.”

A corner of Tim’s full-lipped mouth curved. “Looks can deceive.”

“I’m nothing if not adventurous.”

The redhead smirked and leaned against the bar. Tim drank the final few drops of his beer and set the bottle on the bar in front of him. “What’s her poison?”

“Who, Bevin?”

“Is that her name?” Tim asked, resisting the urge to roll his eyes.

“Yeah, and um, nonalcoholic, I know—she’s our DD.”

He nodded and tapped on the bar. When the bartender approached, Tim ordered. “Can I get a Diet Coke and another one of these?” he asked, pointing to the empty beer bottle. A few moments later, both orders appeared before him, and Tim slapped down a ten. “Keep the change,” he drawled, and the bartender nodded thanks.

“Come back and let me know what she says, yeah?” the redhead commanded when Tim slid off the barstool.

Tim didn’t answer her, already stalking toward his quarry.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (and anyone else you deigns to listen)

Well, I've moved. I'm now in sunny, warm, South Carolina in my new apartment doing laundry. And blogging on something I've been wanting to blog on since Friday, but the site was throwing a tantrum but I couldn't.

Oh, well.

Anyway, I'm here, and I'm going to stalk about Mildred D. Taylor's Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry and why this novel is THE novel that started my love for reading and in many ways has influenced my writing. And even a decade and a half later, it is still at the top of my favorite books of all time. I love this book, it's as poignant now as as it was when I first read it. I think this will be a book, and this will be a series, I'll continue to read well into my eighties (Lord willing!).

In the beginning of the novel, Ms. Taylor says her father was a master storyteller, a trait he clearly passed on to his daughter. The choice to use Cassie as the narrator was brilliant because female voices were rarely heard during that time or even in the 70s when Ms. Taylor wrote the book--especially black female voices. Coupled with that, I don't think a male narrator would be able to highlight the gender differences and nuances the way a woman could; just like a white character couldn't discern the racial differences and nuances the way a nonwhite character could. More importantly, through Cassie, the reader is allowed to see the entire breadth of black family life in the 1930s South in a way an adult narrator would probably take for granted. There is the innocence and fun along with the terror and stress of what it meant to be black during that time.

And folks, I can honestly say I don't think I would've been able to make it.

Cassie is about three years younger than my grandmother, which means my grandmother is Stacey's age. Reading this book, especially towards the end and how the night riders really had the right to do whatever they wanted to black people and could get away with it...that David Logan had to burn a quarter of his crop so he could save the life of a black boy not even of his Black people during this time never had post-traumatic stress because there was never a "post", it was just traumatic stress every day. Can't get a good night sleep because you have no idea if you said or did something to piss off a white person. Tiptoeing in your own backyard because the laws weren't meant to protect you, were meant to be used against you, having to have those "hard" conversations with your children that white parents would never even fathom to have with theirs.

And those conversations still happening today, even if the language of it is a bit different.

I remember reading that book and believing in my heart of hearts I was Cassie Logan even though I'd never picked cotton a day in my life; or had to walk barefoot for an hour just to go to class; or had my dignity shat upon because "that was the way of things"; or having to see my parents capitulate to white people even though everyone in the situation knew those very white people were wrong. And yet...I was still told all of this growing up, warned, cautioned. I remember my uncle (may he rest in peace, as last week was the fifth anniversary of his passing) tell me to never show how smart I am to other people. I took that lesson to heart because he'd never steer me wrong and I loved him. And now that I'm older, I realize why he told me that. Because showing how smart you were was the quickest way to land yourself into trouble, specially if it were proven you were smarter than someone white. In many ways I'm still unlearning that, especially when it comes to my writing and putting myself out there. Basically, I need to own up to the fact that I am as good as I think I am, which is really hard to do when you've been taught to be humble, almost to the point of making yourself invisible, and have been very good at it for the majority of your formative years.

Although I don't think your "formative" years stop until you die.

Roll of Thunder is one of the main reasons family is such an important theme in my writing, or why my supporting characters almost mean as much to me as my main characters. Every person in that novel meant something to Cassie, even if that character was mentioned on page 57 and was never spoken of again. And while it's not a romance, it's a love story because it shows the love Cassie's family has for each other, the love the family has for the land, the love Cassie has for herself despite an entire society telling her why she shouldn't.

In many ways, nine-year-old Cassie is who I aspire to be, who my heroines aspire to be. To have that much self-knowledge and efficacy despite everything...that girl was blessed. Yes, her parents shielded her from a lot, and she had to grow up real fast between the beginning and end of the novel, but the essence of her remained the same. That impetuous, unfiltered sense of justice and demanding it; knowing you're worth dignity and respect and becoming damn affronted when it's not given instead of "accepting it as things are"--Cassie is the real definition of heroine to me. I don't mean to be all lofty about it, but she is who I want to reclaim, who I think a lot of black women want to reclaim. I think as black women grow older, a lot of us give up our inner Cassie so we can "make our way and make do", but we miss her. We really do. I know I do.

I'm slowly getting her back, though. And when I write my heroines, I try to get them back to their "inner Cassie" also. Because until you have her, I don't think you can truly, truly fall in love. And maybe it's when you're falling you realize how much you've missed her, how much you need her back so you don't fall so far you forget about yourself completely.

*rubs chin in thought* I'll have to let that bit marinate some more...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sam Cooke on Loop

These past two weeks have been and will be I want to thank those of you who have sent me e-mails and messages to keep my chin up regarding last week's fiasco that is still ongoing (which was capped by yet two more rejection letters from agents. Oh, it was a good week last week, yes lol). Shame on me for not realizing I would have the kind of support I'd received, but that was a singular blessing during that entire ordeal. I don't believe in coincidences, despite my reluctance to go to a church every Sunday, but I'm constantly reminded there's someone bigger than I looking out for me, and I'm eternally grateful. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning; and while I don't particularly feel joy, I do feel more at peace than I had before, and I'm definitely grateful for that.

I had my last day at work on Friday, and my coworkers took me out to lunch and gave me a really nice card. I knew about the lunch; I'd even expected a card because I'd been at my job long enough to know that's just the type of great people I work with...but I was still touched by the nice things that were said about me and the genuine well-wishes bestowed upon me. I'm going to miss them, even if I won't exactly miss Boston per se. I've met and known wonderful people up here, and thank goodness for Facebook because we'll be able to keep in touch much better than we would probably without it. But it's going to be weird not getting up before the sun rises to go to work. It's going to be weird not to contend with ice and snow for the majority of the year (or how it seems to me anyway!). It's going to be weird to step out on faith and do what I need to do...what I've wanted to do since I was a junior in high school. Write. Scary, scary, scary. And maybe one of these manuscripts will be something an editor/agent will want to represent; but until then, I'll be self-publishing, which means no guarantees of success. SC has the 3rd-highest unemployment rate in the country, and I'm moving there with no "job" prospect in sight. And yet, I'm excited as well as trepidatious about the entire thing. This is the first time I'm going to do something for me, something that's not safe...something that has a real chance of blowing up in my face regardless of how much planning I've done to safeguard against it. I believe I am resilient enough to withstand whatever comes--even success. I hope lol.

I am procrastinating like crazy with packing. I have so much junk; I didn't know it could accumulate so quickly in three years (well, 7/8 years if you count college). I load 'em up and ship 'em out on Monday and Tuesday of next week, but it's hard to let go of routine; of that safety net. But I think I need to do this in order to go where I want to be. I'm scared...really, really scared. The first thing my uncle said when I told him I was doing this writing thing two years ago was how unlikely it would be for me to be successful. That wasn't the most encouraging thing I could've heard, especially when his (and, hell, the industry's) definition of successful is one I haven't met yet. According to agents and editors, I only have one publishing credit (if that, since it's with an e-publisher and it's a short story) and those three other novels and that one novella doesn't count. Except it does to me. That's blood, sweat, tears, sleepless nights, hungry mornings, me in those books. To say that doesn't count don't do much for the ego, I can assure you.

But I'm doing it anyway, because it counts to me. I'm choosing to look at the ending of my contract as a new beginning instead of dwelling on the horror of not having a "proper" job that pays benefits and a 401k (that...has gotten smaller, *eyes economy*). And I have to believe I'm smart enough to pull this off, and dare I say it, talented enough. And God willing, lucky and blessed enough. And I have to remind myself about all those e-mails and notes I got last week from people who are rooting for me, people who are farther along in their publishing journey who are cheering me on. It's very disconcerting to have people selling you to yourself, because I'm so used to focusing on what's not right with me that I disregard what is. You are often your worst critic, after all. I wonder if I had a book signing would people come--I'm so scared they wouldn't, you know? That's why I like those multiple author signings because maybe someone will mosey on over from a more established author and give me a shot.

I say this because I plan on releasing Trolling Nights in the next few weeks. The last time I had a book signing it was for Being Plumville, and considering that was my first book, I wasn't expecting many people to come outside of family and a few friends, but I am also...shy. But that's something I'll use these next few months to work on, trusting that people want to hear what I have to say, even if the majority of my experience thus far says otherwise. I don't get many reviews or responses (which goes back to why I was surprised by the e-mails from last week!) but that doesn't mean people don't know who I am or haven't read my work. But the's easy to live in one in Boston. When I go home, it'll be slightly different.

Change..."Yes We Can!", eh?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Very, very hurt right now.  That's the best I can say.  I'm not a mechanic, so I don't like it when I'm thrown under the bus the way I've been thus far.  I'm upset, and it goes to show you have to be very careful about the people you trust.  I thought people knew me, knew that I had integrity and try to give my best whenever I do something, but apparently not.  It's hurtful, it really is.  I have to figure out a way to rise above all of this, but it seems all I'm good for is having my spirit broken.


Lesson learned.  I'll be more careful in the future.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I want a do-over.

Excuse my language, but this has been a very shitty week thus far and it's only Tuesday.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Winner of the Valentine's Day Free Read

Gunnar Daniels was seeing red…and a whole lot of milk chocolate too…


Gunnar slapped the picture facedown and glared at his employee-turned-partner. “Direct your eyes somewhere else!”

Damon Wilkes merely smirked and wagged his eyebrows. “Can I get an amen?!”

Gunnar’s jaw set in a firm line as his eyebrow arched. Damon stepped back, his hands up in surrender.

“I’m just sayin’…we got some fine-ass women carryin’ our names…or about to, in your case…”

Gunnar didn’t respond, but he also couldn’t help but flip the photograph over again. There was a slight glare from the light as it hit the glossy paper, but it couldn’t block the sight of his fiancée wearing nothing but a smile on a deep-red, fuzzy, heart-shaped carpet. It didn’t matter none of her goodies weren’t on full display, just the hint of all the deliciousness she had to offer made Gunnar want to commit numerous felonies.

“You’re crumplin’ the edges, man,” Damon said, his own dark-chocolate hand pointing to Gunnar’s pale fingers. “I don’t think Tyler would appreciate that.”

Gunnar threw down the pictures and shot up, pacing in what little space he had behind his desk. Running his fingers through his light-brown hair, he wracked his mind trying to figure just when the hell Tyler had even had time to take the pictures…and who did.

Plopping back down in his chair, Gunnar dialed a familiar number, not even caring it was butt-crack in the morning where this person was.

“Somebody better be dying,” came the surly voice.

“You will, søster…”

“Why?” the woman asked on a yawn, sounding far too unconcerned about her impending execution.

“Why do I have naked pictures of my fiancée sitting on my desk?”

Inge gasped, and then she squealed. Gunnar heard her husband complain in the background. “You got them! How do they look? She just looks decadent, doesn’t she?”


“Oh, shut up and accept the fact din forlovede er nydelig,” Inge commanded.

Gunnar gritted his teeth and huffed. He didn’t need pictures to know Tyler was beautiful. He’d noticed that the first time he saw her, although he hadn’t accepted her type of beauty as immediately. He’d been used to the manufactured variety from the fashion world—had been part of it. But Tyler was a different kind, natural and overflowing with it from the inside that Gunnar had forgotten “beauty” meant a single-digit dress size and long, flowing hair like his industry had tried to make him believe. Never mind the fact that, point blank, Tyler was stunning regardless of her measurements, but they’d had a few rocky moments during the beginning of their relationship trying to convince each other that Tyler’s beauty was acceptable…preferred…to the commoditized versions magazines and commercials sold.

“Who took the pictures?” Gunnar asked, changing tack. When Inge didn’t answer immediately, his gray eyes narrowed. “Inge, tell me the photographer didn’t have a penis.”

“What if he were gay—”

“I don’t fucking care—!”

“What if she were gay?”

Gunnar’s nostrils flared and his hand tightened around the receiver, both at Inge’s question and the fact Damon wasn’t doing a very good job of not laughing at him.

“Point being,” Gunnar said, doing his best to keep his voice level. “Nobody should be seeing my woman naked but me!”

“The photos are tastefully done and they aren’t going on sale, Gunnar,” Inge said, irritation seeping into her speech. “And if it makes you feel any better, I took the photos and I developed them, okay?”

He felt as if he were about to pop several essential blood vessels even though Inge’s confession did lower his heart rate dramatically. Taking a deep breath, Gunnar dropped his tone even more. “Whose idea was this?”


Now that did surprise him. “Really?”

“Yes, she said she wanted to do something special for you. What a jerk she’s being, huh?”

Gunnar scowled at his sister’s sarcasm. “I got it.”

“Do you? Why are you so pissy? I think she looks hot. If I weren’t happily married and heterosexual, I’d do her.”

Gunnar rolled his eyes. “Really, Inge.”

His sister chuckled and blew a kiss into the phone. “Hush up and go make passionate love to your woman. I’m ready to be an aunt, bror. Get to it!”

And with that, the little hellion hung up the phone. Sometimes Gunnar wondered if Inge knew he were the older of the two…and then he remembered Inge didn’t give a flying darn. She was a bossy little thing, knew what she wanted and made sure she got it, which was why she headed a successful talent agency with the love of her life.

But when Inge was right, she was right.

“I’m leaving,” Gunnar announced to a Damon who’d been leaning on the back two legs of the chair.

“Now? Ain’t this a bit early for you?”

It was Friday, the day before Valentine’s Day, in fact, and the sun had just set. To be fair, Damon had a point. He was usually the last to leave, especially with the plans to open a new GD Gym and Fitness in Chapel Hill in full bore. The only times he saw Tyler were when she stopped by the gym for a quick visit, and usually with Wendy and Damon, Jr., who was now three and a half months.

Gunnar hung his head. He’d not been the world’s most attentive fiancée these last few weeks, letting the excitement over the new baby disguise the fact he hadn’t been as available as he should’ve been.

I don’t even have a gift!

Damon’s eyes widened just as Gunnar’s did. “Oooh, you in trrooouubbllee!

“Shut up!” Gunnar groused, gathering his items so he could go directly to the mall.

“I’m taking my wife to the Sheraton in Raleigh so we can have a romantic Valentine’s Day without Junior…I knew there was something off when Wen said Ty would help Carmen watch the baby for us…”

Gunnar had thought it was impossible for him to feel like a bigger idiot, but he’d been so wrong. Hell, he’d just called Inge and she was in Australia for her romantic Valentine’s Day getaway!

“For what it’s worth, Tyler doesn’t strike me as the type to want a big production,” Damon mused.

Gunnar paused his frantic motion. That was true. Last year he’d given her a box of Girl Scout cookies and she’d acted like he’d given her the world’s biggest diamond.

“That’s not the point,” Gunnar said, resuming his packing of his messenger bag.

“At least you know that,” Damon said.

“What am I gonna do? Super Bowl’s over. March Madness hadn’t started…”

“If you have a tape of last year’s Super Bowl that might help,” Damon said with a little grin.

Gunnar chuckled. Last year Tyler’s favorite team had won it all. This year, they’d been one and done in the postseason. He’d had enough foresight to sit with her through that tragic evening at least.

“She deserves more than that,” Gunnar said.

“Again, you are absolutely right. Good luck trying to prove that to her in the eleventh hour!”

Resisting the urge to stick out his tongue, Gunnar hopped into his Jeep and went to the mall. He’d never seen so many men there in his life, and all of them were running in and out of frou-frou stores trying to find that perfect last-minute gift. However after an hour of looking himself, nothing jumped out at him…nothing shouted, “Tyler”, so he left. He didn’t know exactly where he was going when he got into his Jeep and pulled out of the parking lot, so he was slightly surprised when he ended up in Tyler’s driveway. When he rang the doorbell, however, the last thing he’d expected to see was his fiancée holding a sleeping Damon, Jr. in her arms.

Tyler’s eyes widened with surprise, then her brows furrowed together as she bounced the baby to keep him lulled. “Gunnar?”

She shouldn’t be shocked he’d come to see her, and that was entirely his fault. Sighing he stepped across the threshold and kissed her forehead. “Hallo, elskling.”

Tyler leaned into his kiss, one of her hands pressed against his chest so he didn’t crush her and the baby. “Are you okay? You seem upset…”

Gunnar shook his head, letting a gentle finger trace the top of Damon, Jr.’s head. “I’ve been an awful intended.”


He kissed her mouth gently. “I’ve been neglecting you. I’m sorry.”

“Neglecting me?” Tyler asked, confused. “You’ve been busy with the gym—”

“I should never be too busy for you, kjære,” he insisted, not moving from her lips. “You are going to be my wife. You have to be the most important person in my life, and I haven’t adjusted as well as I’d like to that fact.”

Tyler pulled back and held the baby tighter to her, looking at Gunnar sorrowfully. “I should apologize to you, too, then. I’ve been all about the baby these last few weeks, I haven’t really been home, made myself available—”

“She’s your sister, and he’s your nephew, I understand,” Gunnar said.

“But the same applies for me,” Tyler challenged, cooing a little when the baby started to fuss. He settled back down, burying his face into Tyler’s chest, and Gunnar grinned. He couldn’t blame Damon, Jr. for his new position. As if knowing where Gunnar’s mind had gone, Tyler sucked her teeth.

“He’s a baby and family!” she chastised.

“But he’s also in one of my favorite places,” Gunnar said, wagging his eyebrows.

Tyler blushed but shook her head, leaving the doorway to go back to the living room where there was a blanket spread out for Damon, Jr. Gunnar followed and watched Tyler put Damon in the baby bouncer. When she was done, he held out his arms and Tyler cuddled with him on the couch. They just watched their nephew sleep and Gunnar felt his hand slide down until it rested on Tyler’s stomach.

She chuckled slightly and looked up at him. “Gunnar…”

He shrugged and grinned also. “I can’t help it. I want several of my own.”


Hmm,” he intoned, settling his mouth into the crook of her neck. She tasted so good, his favorite butterscotch candy, and he let his tongue swirl around her collarbone. He grinned against her skin.

“Thank you for my Valentine’s Day gift.”

He saw her frown, and then he saw her eyes widen. “What?!

Chuckling, Gunnar pried his mouth away from her flesh and rifled through his messenger bag for the envelope that held the pictures. He pulled out the glossy paper, watching Tyler’s eyes widen even further.

“That’s not me…” She sighed with awe and frowned. “That can’t possibly be me…”

And yet it was. Sultry chocolate-brown eyes peeked over a smooth, dark-brown shoulder. The way she’d manipulated her body only displayed peeks of sensuous feminine curves, her natural hair pinned up in tempting disarray. All of the photos were classy, a Nubian Botticelli and Ruben in digital form, and he was just as much in awe as she was.

“My God, you are exquisite,” Gunnar whispered, not even looking at the photos anymore, but of a real, breathing Tyler sitting next to him wearing a long-sleeved gray T-shirt that had a hole in the left elbow and sweatpants that stopped right at the ankles.

“I think Inge sent us the wrong photos!” Tyler joked.

Gunnar shook his head and captured her chin in his grasp, turning her face to his. “These are of you. This is how beautiful you are. She didn’t do much. The makeup is minimal; the hairstyle you do by yourself occasionally when you step out the shower. But it’s your eyes, Tyler…I don’t know if it was because you were taking these for me or—”

“I was taking them for me,” Tyler murmured, relieving him of the pictures. “I’d mentioned I might show them to you, but Inge…she convinced me…”

“She said it was your idea—”

“Well, to do it, ultimately, yes. I approached her when we went to California for Christmas. But I’m talking about earlier than that, when we went to LA the first time…”

That was when he’d proposed to Tyler. It hadn’t mattered they’d only known each other for eight months; he knew she was supposed to be his wife much earlier than that. But they’d had some rough times, complete with her having a hospital stay because she hadn’t been eating properly and exercising too much while taking diet pills. His Tyler, his voluptuous, sexy, beautiful Tyler, had been tripping because she couldn’t believe he’d wanted her just the way she was. And he couldn’t blame her; he hadn’t been very nice to her when she’d come to the gym that first time for a personal training session. He’d taken his bad mood at the time out on her and had insulted her weight. His mother and Inge had socked him good several times when they’d found that out.

“So you decided to take these pictures to prove something?” Gunnar ultimately asked.

“Yes.” She smiled. “I think I did.”

“I’ve always known you were lovely, kjære,” Gunnar said, letting his nose drift along her temple. “Another reason why I’ve been a bad fiancée—I haven’t shown you just how beautiful you are in a long time.”


He cut off the protest he knew was coming by kissing her. When he pulled back, Tyler’s eyes were glazed and the baby was whimpering once more. Grinning slightly, Gunnar went to Damon, Jr. and settled him down, returning to the couch to sit next to Tyler.

Damon, Jr.’s brown eyes looked at Gunnar curiously, and then the baby grinned.

“You two are conspiring against me,” Tyler complained.

Gunnar chuckled, not bothering to look at Tyler as he gave a thick finger for the child to grasp. “Why do you say that? Damon’s just bonding with his Uncle Gunnar, isn’t he?”

“No…you two are trying to convince me it’s a good idea to go half on a baby right now…”

Gunnar laughed as quietly as he could, nipping Tyler’s nose with his teeth. “Because you know you want to give me some babies. Like I don’t know you taking care of Damon isn’t practice—”

“How chauvinistic of you!” Tyler cried.

Gunnar laughed again. “You know good and well it isn’t, Tyler Marie. Whenever we went to California I was with Greta and Singe more than their parents were!”

Tyler’s mini ire softened and she rested her chin on his shoulder. “You really want these babies.”

“I love children, and I’d love them with you. I’ve never made a secret of that.”

Tyler dropped her eyes, knowing he was right. Shifting to place her cheek on his shoulder, she let her fingers trail over his and Damon’s. “A baby…”


“We aren’t married.”

“Neither were Wendy and Damon when they conceived Junior here.”

Tyler was about to say something further when the front door opened. Immediately, she shot off the couch and went to the woman who was entering the home.

“Hi, Mommy, how are you?” Tyler asked, hugging the older, shorter, slimmer woman. Though in her sixties, Gunnar didn’t think his future mother-in-law looked a day over forty.

Beuna, chica, buena,” Carmen said, kissing her daughter’s cheek. She walked further into the house and Gunnar leaned his head back against the couch. “¿Hijo, como estás?”

“I am well, mor,” Gunnar said as Carmen kissed his forehead. Carmen Colón Carver had become a second mother to him, stepping in while his own mother Tekla was in Norway. Carmen and Tekla got on very well, and sometimes Gunnar thought they were more excited about August 8th than he and Tyler were.

“Mommy, I gave Damon a bottle and hour ago and then—”

“Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, corazón,” Carmen said, cupping her daughter’s cheek. “Spend it with your young man.”


“Go on, you two,” Carmen said with a grin, taking her grandson from Gunnar’s arms. “It’s a day for lovers.”

Gunnar stood and saw Tyler’s indecision all on her face. He suddenly realized why she’d conveniently let Gunnar forget about the holiday. Carmen. She would be spending it alone, and after years of not having her mother close, Tyler deigned to leave her by herself.

His heart swelling further with love, Gunnar approached Tyler and cupped her cheeks in his hands. “She’ll be all right, kjære,” he whispered.

Tyler looked at him in confusion. “What?”

“Your mother…she’ll be all right.”

She looked at him in surprise. “What do you mean?”

Grinning, he kissed her softly. “Being alone. She’ll be okay, honey. Besides, she knows where to get us and Wendy and Damon should something happen with the baby.”

Pulling back slightly, Tyler looked around Gunnar to see her mother grinning at a beaming Damon. “Mommy.”

“Listen to your young man, corazón,” Carmen said. “We will be fine, won’t we, nieto?”

The baby laughed and reached out chubby hands to his grandmother’s lips.

With that, Gunnar went back over to Carmen and Damon, kissing both on the cheek before grabbing his messenger bag and the photos from the couch, then taking Tyler’s hand in his.

“We’ll be at my house,” Gunnar told his future mother-in-law.

“And we’ll be here. You two have a happy Valentine’s Day.”

“We’ll have dinner tomorrow!” Tyler said as Gunnar led her out the door.

“I better not even see you tomorrow, corazón!” Carmen said on a laugh. Gunnar guffawed, especially at Tyler’s shocked expression.

“Did my mama just—?!”

“Give us permission to give her more grandbabies? Yes, yes, she did.”

Tyler glared at him, jutting her glorious hip out and crossed her arms underneath her breasts. Grinning further, Gunnar approached her and, to her obvious amazement, lifted her off her feet and buried his face in her chest. She laughed and wrapped her arms and legs around him.


He kissed the space over her heart and started walking them to his Jeep. “Hmm, kjære, you were saying something?”

“Put me down before you throw out your back!”

He leaned her against the Jeep and kissed her hard, grinding his hardening crotch against her. “Oh, I plan to throw it out, all right…”

Tyler laughed harder. “You are a mess!”

“A mess o’ love!” Gunnar yelled, leaning back and shaking his head like a maniac. He chuckled as Tyler pulled his head back up and kissed him again.

“I didn’t get you anything for Valentine’s Day,” he said when they broke apart for air.

Tyler just arched an eyebrow and ground her pelvis against his. “I think you can more than make it up to me…”

And with that Gunnar immediately set her on the ground and told her to get in the vehicle...

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