Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Silent Roar

Fair warning: If you are looking for a measured think piece, do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Click that X box in the corner. This is a curse-laden rant. It is not nice or understanding.
The roar, this time at least, started a few months ago. I wholeheartedly volunteered to be a part of an event that would shine the spotlight on romance authors who write about or who are WOC, LGBTQ.

Sounds uplifting, right?

The whole movement of #weneeddiverseromance is about putting the money where your mouth is. Don't just say you want to read more books that features these characters. Buy, read, review and in general be inclusive. The authors and corresponding article would be featured on Kirkus.

FuckYesAwesome, right?

But about two weeks ago, I was informed the corresponding article would likely make my eye twitch, if not make me lose my shit on the Internet. I was braced and then I read the article. Let me highlight one part that I think best explains the trouble we're facing in romance:

Many of the diverse authors I’ve mentioned in my column, whose books I’d like to read, don’t have audio versions, so even when a friend gifts me with credits, I don’t have many diverse options.”

Now let me try and break it down for you in case you read that and go what's the problem? I don't see the problem. When it comes to diversity people are always making a mountain out of a molehill. She's not saying I can't read books with people of color because POC is so OTHER. She's not even saying diverse books aren't on my radar and I never read one. She comes across nice, right?

One: A person decided to put together an event that would showcase diversity in romance.

Two: This event was planned months in advance.

Three: Everyone is living a busy life, and their time is limited. So...understandable. BUT...

Four: And in all those months you couldn't manage to read ONE or listen to ONE, half a of ONE, a paragraph, a sentence...

Five: And in all the months ahead, you still might not read ONE or listen to ONE, half of ONE, a paragraph, a sentence....

Why should a person reading this article go out of their way to read a diverse romance when the writer of said article couldn't be bothered to do it? For an event she put together? Instead of a showcase, what the article becomes is Reasons Why I Don't Have Time To Read Diversely But Meybe You Should????

What was the purpose of writing anything about diversity in romance? Other than to get a pat on the back because it looks good.


This article and the responding one is why there's a roar within the romance industry. The roar is silent as fuck, because it seems the only people bothered by things like this live it every day. Let me explain. If it was some misogynistic blowhard saying romance is just ladygarden porn, my feed would be exploding. If it was about rape culture, I wouldn't be able to turn around without seeing this referenced. These are issues that are inclusive as horrible as that is. It doesn't matter what color you are or your sexual preference or if you are physically disabled.

But if it involves diversity it's practically so silent it's deafening. Or half-hearted hand waving.

Let me belabor my point with another list:

It's hard to find books that features diverse characters.
The ones I read were...not to my taste.
I like what I like. Why do I have to go out of my way to read books that aren't to my taste?
I'm afraid to write a person of color because I don't want to do it wrong.
I have written A person of color or someone from the LGBTQ community or here's my one story about that vet who lost his leg/arm/eye.
Aren't Interracial Romances about race? I just want a romance.
I don't think I could identify with the heroine or hero.
I have plenty of secondary characters that are not white or straight.
We are currently looking for more diverse authors and books. (Goes to their website and there's only one person of color on staff.)
I love Kimani Romance or THIS ONE BLACK/ASIAN/LATINO author!
I did read a book by an author of color and it didn't read authentic.
Being diverse is so politically correct right now.
I'm a nice person and I can't be racist.

Here's the thing, no one wants to think they are racist. No one wants to have that Come To Jesus moment where they see their actions or speech are actively participating in the systematic oppression of another.

Ask yourself the hard question, that some (I'm not naming names) won't: What are my reasons for not buying, reading or even sometimes reviewing books of people who don't look like me, sound like me, live lives that I don't lead?

If you start to make excuses for why you don't, you are actively participating in the systematic oppression of another. You can do that and be the nicest person. Nice isn't a shield. It is not a preventive measure for unconscious bias. It's unconscious, you don't even know you're doing it...Hence the Come To Jesus moment.

And just FYI: If you do not actively participate in oppressive behavior OR you've recently had your Come To Jesus moment about the serious lack of diversity in your reading choices, buying habits, hell your blog header or writing, please do not break off your arm to pat yourself on the back. This is equally as bad in my eyes. Being a decent human being is not about brownie points or career trajectory. But I get it. For some people not being an asshole deserves an award or a golf clap.

So...this post isn't for the clueless. This post is for you. The average every day you. IF YOU ARE A NICE PERSON, YOU. Even if you have talked to me personally, and I've let you know I adore you. 'Cause really if you love shenanigans and dick jokes like me, we can be online BFFs.

You are not shielded.

You still might be saying or doing something that is oppressive as fuck.

EVEN ME AS A PERSON OF COLOR, I CAN BE ACTIVELY PARTICIPATING IN SOMEONE ELSE'S OPPRESSION. May not feel like it some days, but I have privilege. I'm heterosexual. The only people who have come close to calling me an abomination are folks who dare to knock on my door Saturday morning (before coffee) with a pamphlet. I can have unconscious bias about Koreans, Latinos, homosexuals. I'm not sure if anyone would call me nice, but do you see my point? How can you demand a seat at the table when on your way there, you are tripping other people to get to your seat?

So...reviewers, bloggers: Take a look at the books you've read and reviewed. No. Seriously. More times than I can count, I have looked at a review site, and page after page I don't see one chocolate drop. Or any drop of anything other than mainstream.

Peeps: Take a look at the books you've bought AND shared on your social media. No, really. Stop and think. When someone is looking for contemporary romances that feature diverse characters do you have a long list? Awesome.

When someone asks for contemporary romance recommendations, are you including those same books? Or leaving them out because “diverse” wasn't stated?

Take a longer minute if you need to.

THIS POST IS ESPECIALLY FOR YOU.

And in case you're getting defensive, about to type a fuck you Melissa Blue, and you can suck it hard. Take another minute, and really think do I want to be a part of the problem? Even in ways that doesn't make me evil but thoughtless? Why would you want to be thoughtless? Why would you want your peer to feel like they are working in a hostile environment? Where they have no voice? Outside of readers, in this industry, you are the greatest ally.

Lastly, agents, editors, publishers: If you do a call for diverse romance novels, you should know people like me might take a look at your staff. If you believe in diversity in romance, why doesn't your staff roster show it? Otherwise, I think you're full of shit. And if you can pass that sniff test, (not likely) and you point me to your dedicated line to African Americans. Awesome. But when I look at your marketing campaign, year after year, the only thing you really do say to sell books...Hey, Black Peoples! Not Secret Baby Romance. Friends to Lovers Romance. Alphas Who Kidnap Their Heroines.

Just black peoples in romances....

THIS POST IS ESPECIALLY FOR YOU.

So TL;DR: Romance industry get your shit together. Stop looking to the people you are oppressing to help you stop oppressing them. Like Glenda would say, the power was within you the whole fucking time. (Paraphrased Glenda.) Show some goddamn initiative if you really want to be inclusive. And if you can, be a great ally in both your words and actions.


Monday, January 25, 2016

Dirty Scot Starter Kit

Either some of you have never heard of me or you've just finished reading TO ONE HUNDRED. (Or, bless you, you know my dirty Scots all too well.) The purpose of this missive is to prepare you for Feb. 11th. SCOT APPEAL will be released and there will be a sudden surge on your social media about Scotsmen, kilts, dick jokes, random trivia about Scotland and none of it will likely have anything to do with Outlander. I can only apologize about the last part, because Jaime...UNF.

So, let's do a mini-recap. (And by mini I mean the write-ups will be shorter than the books.) These books are much lighter in tone, a shade less angsty and emo, but overall fun, sexy reads.

* TLDR: UNDER HIS KILT is free if you need to catch up. SCOT APPEAL will be out Feb. 11th. (Buy links for the entire series here. http://www.themelissablue.com/under-the-kilt-series.html)

UNDER HIS KILT: Ian Baird is the hero. Born and raised in Scotland but now resides in America (California at the opening of the book) as a curating consultant. (Say that five times fast.) He knows his way around dry wit, and better yet, women. Because of that he has rules about the kind of women he'll sleep with. No one inexperienced and definitely no one he's working with. Of course that means his heroine is Jocelyn, a curator he has to work with. Her thirtieth birthday is right there on the horizon. She has lived a life that is all about work, rarely any play. She convinces Ian to teach her how to play, even if it involves anal. Yes, I typed that with a straight face. (JUST GO WITH IT. I PROMISE IT PAYS OFF.) There's a dog, angst, a big miscommunication and some backstory involving mums. Not mothers because hey Scot.

Buy Links:

HER INSATIABLE SCOT: Tristan Baird is the hero, Ian's older brother. Scotland is his home until his brother calls in a favor. See, Tristan used to be a con man. He's turned legit and now works as a carpenter—repenting for past sins and doing his best to be honest. His brother wants him to get him a house and that involves a little white lie. I'm-an-married-man lie. I-can-pass-off-as-my-brother lie. Since he can't do this small con alone, Keri will be his partner in crime. Keri...a little science geeky, a lottle (Yes. I'm a writer. I can make up words) sexually insecure and honest because she can't lie to save her life. (JUST GO WITH THIS PLOT. I PROMISE IT PAYS OFF.) There's almost a step-by-step guide on how to con someone, sexual facts like how many nerve-endings reside in a c...never mind. Just read the book.

KILTED FOR PLEASURE: Callan Baird is a grouchy jackass aka the wounded hero of the series. His wife died, and unlike the other Bairds he's not afraid to love. He just doesn't wanna. This book takes the reader from California to Scotland, but don't worry. The plot is totally American i.e. the hero has medical debt despite the existence of NHS. (JUST GO WITH IT. I PROMISE IT PAYS OFF.) Victoria is a kick ass heroine who gives the hero a blank stare for all his emo. Even though he is grouchy, he can be a charming bastard. And a dirty one. There's a castle, an older Baird who likes to play matchmaker for his laddies, and this time I switch things up with a shitty da. Not father because hey Scot.

KILT TEASE: Here we have the special edition of UNDER THE KILT series. It's not as dirty or angsty, but it has Kate, never to be called Kitten. By the end of the first chapter you will completely understand why I say this book has Kate and that's all you need to know to buy it. And there's Quinton, Callan's younger brother, a former rugby player who is cocky and knows it. He likes his privacy, his money and he's wary of relationships. BUT he needs a temporary girlfriend for reasons. (JUST GO WITH IT. I PROMISE IT PAYS OFF.) Lastly, I finally have a Scotsmen in this series wear a kilt. SPOILER.

That's the recap. Consider yourself prepared for Marcus Baird aka the charming bastard. I'm letting a Baird near a virgin. Mwahahahaha. I had so much fun writing this book.

Again, TLDR: UNDER HIS KILT is free if you need to catch up. SCOT APPEAL will be out Feb. 11th. (Buy links for the entire series here. http://www.themelissablue.com/under-the-kilt-series.html)

Info about SCOT APPEAL below:
Marcus Baird has been called a lot of things: Scottish bastard, heartless, ruthless, but thanks to his new neighbor, he could add ginger buff guy. The ruthless part is true, at least. His current occupation as a handyman is a front to fuel a bidding war between his former employer and the next private equity firm in his sights—an undertaking that should have all his attention, but Ivy makes him an offer he cannot refuse.

When Ivy Stewart imagined losing her virginity, she was at least a decade younger, a yes away from marriage, and her perfect man would make sweet, slow love to her. Waiting for that dream to unfold has kept her watching life from the sidelines. She's done biding her time. It's foolhardy to choose Marcus. He's a man with secrets and an ugly past, but he's honest about what their relationship will be, charming and...he's very good with his hands.


Since Marcus took Ivy into his bed, he's lived a lie. He could be the man she needs. He isn't a workaholic and he doesn't really have a heart of stone. But it's only a matter of time before Ivy finds out the truth, and once again he's nothing but a Scottish bastard.

Amazon
iTunes
Barnes and Noble
ARe
Google Play

Monday, November 16, 2015

PSA: Retiring Titles

I published WEEKEND LOVER in 2012. That book was a fluke. As a writer I was stretching my wings and trying out new genres and erotic romance was definitely outside my comfort zone. I wrote sweet-ish romances, I thought. I would write sweet-ish romances until the day I die.

Then came along UNDER HIS KILT and that changed the course of my writing career. The past three years have been awesome and crazy. But after writing TWICE SHY, I had to admit I no longer write sweet-ish romances. And bless anyone who goes from DOUBLE TROUBLE to UNDER HIS KILT. Or a reader tries out DOUBLE TROUBLE after loving KILTED FOR PLEASURE.

Though I may be the common factor, these stories don't live in the same genre. When someone looks at my backlist, I don't want any confusion. This will only get worse as I add to my #dirtysexygeek series. So I'm retiring a couple of titles from the Melissa Blue name.

Don't freak out though. Many of these titles will be re-published under a new author name and I won't keep it a secret--PROMISE. This process will be long, but know that by 2016, you will no longer be able to purchase these titles under the Melissa Blue name.

Here's a list of titles that will be retired:

Sugar Plum Kisses
Everything You Need
Everything He Dreamed
Double Dare
Twice Smitten
Double Trouble
See Megan Run
See Lynne Chased
The One I Want

All right. Any questions don't be afraid to ask me. I don't bite unless you ask.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

New Release: Devil of the Gridiron

A few months ago I decided to take a risk and write a story for submission. I wasn't going to have a release until January. I had time to write a short novella, and what could it hurt? Mind you, I haven't wrote to submission guidelines in more years than I can remember. But I heard about Kindle Worlds, in particular Bella Andre's GAME FOR LOVE series. Andre's story features a bad boy football player and a sweet heroine. Also, the book was hotter than fish grease. How could I resist?
I wrote the story, submitted it and Kindle Worlds accepted DEVIL OF THE GRIDIRON. It's out now! So exciting.

Anyway, here's an excerpt and the deets are below.
***

Six months was much, much too long to go without if a woman's back could get him revved. Some men weren't made to be monks. Adam sure as shit wasn't. What he wanted to do was cross the room, press his dick into the soft swell of her ass, and maybe nip the skin along her neck, just to claim her as his. Hell, just to taste her.
Rule. Number. Two.
No. Women.
Not even sweet ones, because once he fell off the wagon, he would binge himself into a sexually satisfied coma.
“I like to be a man of my word, so I came early.” He rasped out gruffly, much lower than he'd intended.
The basket dropped as she whirled to face him. The dress fluttered up. A flash of green satin underwear made him want to both groan and chuckle. The tease of seeing that scanty triangle over her mound would haunt his dreams. But now he knew exactly the kind of woman she was. The kind who would make sure her panties matched her dress. Knowledge that made dying seem preferable if this was the kind of torture he had to look forward to.
He strode over to Charlotte since she still stood there, eyes wide while she panted. Her heavy breathing caused her tits to jiggle. Another moment of witnessing the latter and he'd suffer from vertigo.
“Sorry if I scared you,” he mumbled.
Her hands fluttered up then down and she shook her head. “Yeah.”
He narrowed his eyes. This was not the woman he'd talked to over the phone and in email. That Charlotte had been outspoken, maybe even chatty. He stopped a foot in front of her.
“Charlotte, are you okay?”
“Fine,” she squeaked, her eyes shifty. She bent to pick up the fallen vegetables and basket. “I'm fine,” she muttered.
He grasped her shoulders and drew her up so she couldn't hide her face. She lowered her head, bringing down a soft cascade of hair. A shame because he liked her ocean-blue eyes.
“Is this going to be the next two hours of my life?” he asked. “I say something and you give me a two-word sentence, if I'm lucky?” He really didn't want to touch her any more than he had to— they could go down a bad, bad road if he did—but the action seemed necessary.
Adam cupped her chin, forcing her to meet his gaze. Breath gone. She could look straight through a man and see exactly who he was. He dropped his hand and stepped back, not wanting her to see all his exposed wounds.
“Let's make a deal,” Adam said.
“What?”
Another one-word reply. He smiled. “You treat me like I'm not famous and things should go smoothly.”
“Oh, no,” she said horrified. “It's not that. It's…” She pushed out a breath, her cheeks coloring. “No. It's exactly that. Your fame blinds me, and I don't know what to do when you're around?”
Pleasure warmed his blood. So it was just him that flustered her. “That sounded like a question. Not sure if I'm the one who is supposed to answer or if you are.”
She threw her head back and laughed. Her entire body fell into the simple action, from a slight shake in her shoulders to the wide smile that went along with it. When was the last time he enjoyed the way a woman laughed—hell, wanted to join her because the sound was pure joy? Adam craved to be a part of it. A selfish need, but he'd taken away all other vices for his career. He needed new ones anyway.
Adam reached up and brushed a thumb along her cheek. The laugh, then the smile, faded. It hadn't been that long that he no longer recognized the change in her stance, the way she parted her mouth, and how she looked at him. Attraction buzzed between them in the silence.
Touching her hadn't been the mistake. Deciding to spend time alone with her had been the misstep. Why did he think he had impulse control when all of his adult life was proof that he didn't?
“Charlotte,” his voice was tight, tense. “Say something unsexy.”
The tip of her tongue feathered over her top lip. “I love Zucchini?”
Yeah. He was screwed. Adam tilted her chin up and kissed her.
***

BLURB
Six months down, six to go...
After a scandal puts his NFL career on the line, wide receiver Adam Carpenter must behave for a year. No partying. No sarcastic replies to the media. No women. He'll survive the longest year of his life if he can just keep his name out of the tabloids, and his hands off a sweet redhead who needs his help. He owes her a favor. Unlike most women he knows, she only wants him to donate his time to charity.
Charlotte West never thought she'd have to ask someone named Devil of the Gridiron for a favor, but her after-school food program is in trouble. She's desperate for donations to keep it going, and a visit from a sports star could create enough social media buzz to save it. But she knows with men like Adam one little favor may be all he'll need to seduce her. Charlotte's instinct is to run from men with wicked smiles and reckless natures, they bring nothing but trouble and heartache.
She can't seem to run from Adam, and the reformed bad boy stands to lose more than his spot on the team if he beds Charlotte—he could lose his heart.
Buy link:

Monday, September 28, 2015

"Age of the Geek, Baby"


Back when I was in elementary, they rolled out new standards for reading. Every day students had to sit quietly and read for twenty minutes.

I was the student who already had their book out on their desk. I was the kid who would get in trouble for reading when the teacher lectured. I was that kid who practically skipped into the school library and the library was Cheers because everyone knew my name.

Hi, my name is Melissa Blue and I'm a word nerd. I know words that I can't pronounce because I've only read them. I can spell obscure words like a champ. I am that geek in the family who is at every family function with a book just in case.

I also love Harry Potter, and one day I'm totally going to dress up like Bellatrix for Halloween. Bow ties are cool. I don't believe in hiding under your covers when you're scared. I think you should fill a shot gun with rock salt and put a devil's trap underneath your bed. Time can be traversed with a DeLorean. I own a ton of shoes and some carry epic level status that can ward off even the scariest boss. I can kill you with the power of my mind. And if that doesn't work, I have a Scooby Doo gang that can research ways to put you down.

I am a geek. So it's only natural that I write a series that features geeks. Yet, I told myself I probably shouldn't. Taking on fandoms and the people in them was asking for trouble. What if I got the Batman cannon wrong? Or misquoted something in the Whedonverse? (Come on. Have you seen a mob of angry geeks? They are vicious. Let's ignore the fact that I am sometimes one of them.) What if I talked about leveling an Alliance Druid and got back nothing but blank stares? What if no one bought into the idea that a guy who wears glasses and loves defunct Sci-Fi shows is a hottie who is a dirty, dirty beast in bed?

Then I remembered the first rule of writing. Write what you know.

And I know what's it's like to feel like I'm on the fringes. I know exactly how it feels to make some obscure joke and lo and behold people laugh. I know exactly how gratifying it is to wave my geek flag and find people who feel the exact same way.

They were the kid who couldn't wait to read twenty minutes a day in class.

They read during the teacher's lecture.

The school librarian knew their name.

It's the age of the geek, baby.

So, look out for TO ONE HUNDRED. It'll come out Jan. 7th. The follow up (DOWN TO ASH) will hit in March. 2016 will be the year of the geek. I'm calling it.
*****

When they met online they were equals...Then she walks into his classroom.

For four months Eva March shared almost every secret with a handsome stranger. It was easy when she didn't have to meet his gaze in real life. The online flirtation was fun. She could be a strong, put-together woman without a sordid past. Most importantly, he'd never know the truth.

Grady Addison takes his job as a professor seriously. He doesn't sleep with co-eds, much less his students. Eva doesn't even fit his leggy, peppy blonde requirements, but he can't walk away now. He's spent too much time fantasizing about her, her smile and the way her eyes darken when she thinks of her past.

And her past is a problem. The secrets she hasn't yet told him could end his career and for Eva, her life could just come crashing down...again.

*****
You can add this to your GoodReads shelf HERE.
You can preorder it at these places:

Don't worry. I'll keep you updated as the preorder links go live on other venues.
100 days until I wave my geek flag.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Read TWICE SHY For Free Before It Hits Stores


If you haven't signed up for my newsletter, you totally should. I'll be sending out weekly installments of TWICE SHY from August 8th to Sept. 12th. This will be totally free. All you have to do is sign up. Sept. 18th the book will go live on most retailers.

Blurb:

When a handsome man walks into Yvonne Smith's jewelry store, she only meant to make him smile by telling him a silly story. How could she have known Gregory Wood's smile could melt a woman's heart? Unfortunately it's not just his smile that's irresistible.

All Greg wants is to sell off the engagement ring from a broken relationship. He's not looking for always and forever anymore, but Yvonne's unassuming charm is addictive and Greg can't seem to get enough.

Just like 1001 Nights, that one story turns into many more and a lot nights spent confessing secret desires. It's foolhardy to believe he could love her so soon after a heartbreak, but as the weeks pass Yvonne starts to suspect Greg just might be The One. He still wants nothing to do with love.

Her choice becomes clear: ignore her heart or protect it?
***

You can sign up for my newsletter here: http://eepurl.com/n0RR1
You can read an excerpt on Wattpad now: https://www.wattpad.com/story/46029151-twice-shy-a-modern-fairy-tale-4/

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Out Now: HIS EVERY TOUCH

Yup. The blog title says it all. HIS EVERY TOUCH is live! Courtney and Lucian were so fun to write. I know, I'm a fan of the forbidden romance trope but these two take the cake. Check it out.

Courtney Michaels wants to be the best paralegal in the biz, and working under Lucian Beaudelaire is her ticket. A highly sought-after attorney, Lucian is ruthless and relentless, in the office as well as the courtroom. He’s just the man to help Courtney’s career remain on the rise—if she can keep her less-than-professional thoughts about him in check.

Lucian would allow only one thing to interrupt a case—family. When his uncle is placed in a medically induced coma, Lucian heads home to New Orleans, with Courtney in tow. He’ll depend on her skills to keep the casework going while he deals with his dysfunctional family, even if sharing neighboring hotel rooms with her is Lucien’s personal idea of torture.

When familial stress becomes too much to bear, Lucian finds release in Courtney’s arms. And that’s exactly where he intends to stay…until they’re back home, and Courtney requests a transfer, convinced they can no longer work together.

But Lucian is a master at arguing his case. It’s time to show his paralegal exactly how ruthless and relentless he can be.

There was an error in this gadget