Diverse Books Battle -5 Tips To Writing Inclusive Stories

Hey, romance addicts. Another week, another thought-provoking blog hop post. Let’s take a look at what we have this week.

Do you write diverse characters? If so, how do you avoid cultural insensitivity?

It’s interesting that this week’s blog hop question asks about diversity in writing. I spent the weekend fielding questions on social media, from white authors about including diverse characters in their books. It’s also ironic that the blog hop posing the question is not very diverse. As far as I know, I am the only contributing blogger who is identifies as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color). No, Italians and the Irish do not count. Let’s not go there. Anyway, onto my answer.

Of course, I write diverse books. just look at my covers.

As an author who identifies with multiple marginalized social intersections, I write to purposefully highlight a range of backgrounds and experiences in my characters. I think diversity is a stable part of literary expression for many BIPOC authors and that the main group challenged to understand the importance of diversity—and how to integrate into their work—is white authors.

Attempts to expand diversity in literature seem to present as a challenge and threat for authors who need to develop a greater appreciation for diverse literature and resist the cultural messaging that centers on whiteness.

Continue reading “Diverse Books Battle -5 Tips To Writing Inclusive Stories”

Unlimited Anything Creates Imaginary and Real Problems

Hey, romance addicts. I hope everyone is having a fabulous week and is geared up for the weekend! I am geared up for this week’s Open Book blog hop post. Let’s check it out. 

What do you wish you had an unlimited supply of?

Hmm. 

A nice, theoretical question is the perfect way to end the week. We live in a world filled with limitations. Our world is shaped by boundaries, which ensure that there is a constant balance of imbalance. I could not think of one thing of which I would not like unlimited anything, because it would only exacerbate my inability to escape the constraints of my existence. I don’t want to seem pessimistic–well, maybe a little–but bear with me.

Continue reading “Unlimited Anything Creates Imaginary and Real Problems”

My Favorite Literature: The Best Books I’ve Read

Do you have a favorite piece of literature? What is it and why is it your favorite?

Hey, romance addicts. I know it’s been a while since I’ve written a blog hop post, but I couldn’t get in front of the camera to do a video. So, I’m getting back to basics and doing what I do best, writing. Let’s do this!

I don’t have one favorite piece of literature. The literary world is far too expansive to settle on one text. However, some books that influenced and inspired me come to mind.

Continue reading “My Favorite Literature: The Best Books I’ve Read”

Saying No to Save Yourself

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What would be the hardest thing for you to give up?

I recently had to give up the delusion that I could be everything for everyone.

I wear many hats. In addition to being a phenomenal romance author, I am a freelance writer, contributing to multiple platforms. I am also a terrific wife (my husband is a lucky man), mother of six , homeschooler, content editor and writing coach. A lot of stuff, right? Well, those are the things left after I did some soul searching and decided I was doing way too much.

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Continue reading “Saying No to Save Yourself”

From Traditional to Self-Published Author

Guest Post

Hey, romance addicts. Let’s welcome author Brenda Whiteside to the Layla Writes Love blog. I am thrilled that Brenda is sharing her experience with transitioning from traditional to self-publishing.

My first contract offer landed in my email inbox in 2009. I jumped around the house like my pants were on fire. Seeing an offer, the thrill of putting your creation out for others to enjoy never gets old. I stuck with my publisher for eleven years.

Continue reading “From Traditional to Self-Published Author”

The Outdoors: My Writing Inspiration

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Guest Post
By Gayle M. Irwin

I whipped the vehicle to the side of the road, put it into “park” and jammed on the emergency brake. I jumped out and joined about 50 other people along the bank of the Madison River inside Yellowstone National Park. We watched a pair of trumpeter swans gliding gracefully through the ripples of water with six cygnets. Although I had seen swans before, rarely had I encountered so many babies with their parents. I’ve not experienced such a sight since.

I relish open spaces, like those found in Yellowstone. Public lands, from parks and forests to wildlife refuges and national monuments, provide sacred spaces to still one’s soul, open one’s heart, and inspire creativity in one’s mind. I am fortunate to live near such special places, and each visit produces a piece of writing or two from the experience.

Other landscapes can stir the imagination, too, such as community parks, botanical gardens, and picturesque farms. Nature’s sights, sounds, and smells open the book of our senses and provide opportunities for creativity to flow.

Two other special outdoor spaces spark creativity for me. One is a ranch located 75 miles from my home, owned by some friends. About three times a year I travel and stay there for an extended period of time. The sage and grass-covered hills, rolling Powder River, and the distant Bighorn Mountains provide solace, and livestock and wildlife encounters bring smiles. Crimson sunrises greet me, and golden sunsets beckon sleep. The quiet relaxes me, and my friends’ generosity brings me joy. The modular guesthouse at which I stay possesses large windows from which one gazes upon the nearby fields and woods. White-tailed deer, fanned-out turkeys, and dancing sandhill cranes abound. I’ve composed many articles, short stories, and book chapters at this scenic and tranquil place. Continue reading “The Outdoors: My Writing Inspiration”

Story Length- Does Size Matter?

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Have you ever written a piece that became a form, or even a genre, you hadn't planned on writing in? Or do you choose a form/genre in advance?

“Make the story as long as it needs to be.” The words from my writing coach echoed in my mind when I began my journey writing romance and continues to help me with each story as it evolves.

Storytelling is an art form that requires writers to let the tale unfold the way it needs to. Resisting can influence the quality of the final execution. I have been in situations where I tried to pound a story to fit into specific word counts, mainly based on my own capricious standards or a publisher’s guidelines. The story almost always pushed back, leaving me to streamline and coax it into the required length. Sometimes it worked–but not always.

Continue reading “Story Length- Does Size Matter?”

Authors Playing in Characters’ Closets

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#openbook

How do you decide how to dress your characters?

The characters in my romances drive the plot. Besides unfolding how a couple falls or stays in love, I like to portray them doing it while holding down jobs or running businesses. While they may not be flat broke, they still have to get up and put in the work, and their clothes reflect their ambitious and entrepreneurial lifestyles.

Readers want impactful characters that make them laugh, cry, yell and swoon. The clothes they wear when doing one or more of those things can deepen the connection as readers turn the page. In Sweet Love, Bitter Fruit, I wanted the clothes Marcus and Toni wore to reflect their complex lives. Continue reading “Authors Playing in Characters’ Closets”

How Author Dee S. Knight Finds Inspiration

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By Dee S. Knight

Every writer gets inspiration from somewhere, a muse that shouts (or whispers) in their ear, asking for a book. Often, I find mine in songs or from a phrase in a conversation.

I wrote the paranormal, erotic romance, The Man of Her Dreams (soon-to-be republished), based on a song I heard while out driving. The song was Wish You Were Here. It was about a man who had gone away for business and sent his wife a postcard talking about how beautiful the place was. He ended with “Wish you were here!” He died on the way home, and she received the card after his death. In The Man of Her Dreams, the heroine receives a strange card from her husband and then he dies on the way home. Her card ends in mystery and intrigue. I am enjoying re-reading this book as I update it for a publication this summer! Continue reading “How Author Dee S. Knight Finds Inspiration”

LWL #Interview – Ann Raina

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Hey, beautiful ones. I am excited to introduce the author, Ann Raina. Ann lives and works in Germany with cats and a horse. Riding and writing are her favorite hobbies. Her latest series, starting with Twisted Mind, turns around an FBI-agent, his demanding lover, and a bad case getting worse.

In all of her books, she combines romance, suspense, and humorous elements, for no thrilling story can stand without comic relief.

Her latest novel is Famous Murders, the second in the series featuring main Nicolas & Jacklyn. check it out! Continue reading “LWL #Interview – Ann Raina”

The Literary Pilgrim – a Writer’s Journey

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Have you ever gone on a literary pilgrimage? If so, where and why?

Pilgrimage is an important part of my faith. In Islam, traveling to the venerated city of Mecca (known as Hajj) is a sacred journey that provides those blessed with the chance to perform Hajj rites expiation of their sins and closeness to the creator.

Some people save for their entire lives to make the holy trip. Others go on Hajj to die. It is an arduous trek. Every pilgrim has their Hajj stories, telling of illnesses, injuries, and challenges to finishing everything without blowing their cool. Despite the physical obstacles, many Muslims through the world strive to go on Hajj. The emotional and spiritual benefits far outweigh any difficulties.

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Continue reading “The Literary Pilgrim – a Writer’s Journey”

#IWSG – Swallow Rejection, Focus on the Work

Mis Quince Años (28)Insecure Writer’s Support Group

Writers have secrets! What are one or two of yours, something readers would never know from your work?

Why y’all asking people to tell their secrets?

A lot of my work as a cultural critic and author involves me asserting confidence about my abilities and talents and using them to encourage writers to form supportive networks that will help us all get our words to the world. While I am blessed to get to write for online publications and my own stories, I also take advantage of opportunities to coach, mentor and cheerlead my fellow writers to get their thoughts and stories out there. I guess that is why it is hard to accept the infrequency for substantial mutual support. Continue reading “#IWSG – Swallow Rejection, Focus on the Work”

Writing Characters in Real Places and Spaces

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Talk about the setting of your book. Is it entirely imaginary or is it based on a real-life place?

I love writing stories that allow readers to tap into the fantasy and escapism that fiction provides. At the same time, I like to include points of reference from my environment. Similar to integrating real-life characters experience, my story plots also contain geographical references to position readers in characters’ environments, potentially essential to reinforce arches and allow them to relate.

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Settings in the romance genre tend to be at economic and geographic extremes. At a Popular Cultural Association conference, romance scholar Jodi McAllister pointed out that romance plots frequently unfold between female protagonists and rich men in cities or small-town bearded hunks.  She posed a question asking why people didn’t seem to fall in love in the suburbs. She made a great point. I spent my teens and early adult life reading about ridiculously wealthy men taking their love interests to bed. Not necessarily a bad thing, I enjoyed the escapism, but not everyone lives like that way, nor do they exist in tiny towns with one traffic light. I want my readers to see themselves in my stories. Continue reading “Writing Characters in Real Places and Spaces”

Author Tools to Keep A Story Together

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Share how you keep your characters, storylines, etc., organized. Do you use an outline? Notecards? Post-its all over your walls?

I am back, everyone. I’ve missed writing for this blog hop, but I was slammed…hard…with a number of illnesses and was laid out for weeks.

Yeah, it took a while, but I am better now and ready to go!

Okay. How I keep track of everything needed to write a cohesive novel, novella or short story. What fun! And how convenient that I recently wrote articles about high and low-tech productivity for the awesome Haute Hijab blog. Below are some tools I use to keep things in check while story writing, even rebellious characters like Quinn Ang and Raad Khouri.

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High-Tech Tools

Continue reading “Author Tools to Keep A Story Together”

Author Interrupted – Dealing with Distractions

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What are your top three distractions and how do you deal with them?
Note: I am writing this post on the road. Please forgive any typos.

A writer’s life is full of all kinds of distractions, which can make finding the time to develop ideas and getting out of one’s head and onto paper (or the screen) difficult. I have mentioned that time management can be an external factor hindering writing.

Damn those twenty-four hours in a day. They just won’t listen and become more. Authors have professional (novel writing is not the main source of income for most) and personal lives, each demanding energy and time. Finding sufficient time to develop a plot, construct character arcs and write content can be difficult.  One cruel irony is that creative often burgeons when there is no time. Authors scramble to find a moment to weave a story, but frustration usually sets in when the brilliance blazing in their minds flickers into embers because that’s how it often works. Write right now or risk losing everything.

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Continue reading “Author Interrupted – Dealing with Distractions”

The Dual Life of the Self-Published Author

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How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

Control is something I have a difficult time relinquishing to anyone. I can delegate easily enough but must maintain the power to make the final decisions, especially when it comes to my writing.

Like many authors, I put a lot of myself in my books. I have been exhilarated while writing some scenes and depleted by others. More than time and talent, storytelling requires energy. After completing a fleshed-out plot, I am usually vested in it and the characters, making it hard to detach myself and place it into someone else’s hands. I figured out pretty early into the novel-writing process that I did not want to let go.

Mis Quince Años (24) Continue reading “The Dual Life of the Self-Published Author”

LWL Interview: Tiffani Velez Writes History, War and All That Good Stuff

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As people wrap their holiday presents, I am posting the final Layla Writes Love author interview for 2019. I am thrilled to introduce readers to Tiffani Velez. I met Tiffani through a mutual author acquaintance via social media.  I became an immediate fan after reading her bookA Berlin Story, which was called “hauntingly beautiful” by Geekwire.  Her ability to write a solid stream-of-consciousness piece garnered my respect. So much so, that I passed my first novel to her before publishing.  Continue reading “LWL Interview: Tiffani Velez Writes History, War and All That Good Stuff”

Male Authors, Female Characters and the Wonders of Writing Sex

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I have read many social media posts and articles from women expressing shock and frustration on the ways some male authors describe female characters and sexual encounters in their writing.

Here is one example.

Yeah, the dude wrote that women’s insides are “mazes” and men “conjure up” pee.  There are far worse. This one just gave me so many giggles when I read it that I had to share. Some of my other favorites include: Continue reading “Male Authors, Female Characters and the Wonders of Writing Sex”

The Non-negotiable Writing Exchange

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What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?

For people dedicated to the craft, writing is an impactful part of their lives and identities. I mentioned in another post, “I acquired and honed skills to interpret and craft words, using a range of prose (and a tiny bit of poetry) to harness the resilient power of language for liberation and resistance.”

Endeavors to generate words can be powerful and empowering, making writing a tool and art form requiring commitment. 

Dedicated writers pick up their pens [or fire up their keyboards] to share their perspectives and stories. The better ones know that wordsmithing involves layers of composition, drafting, editing and revising—all of which require development. Only deluded writers think that their skillsets are fine and they don’t need to hone them. 

Two mistakes many new writers make are thinking that all writing is the same and it will not take that much work.  Continue reading “The Non-negotiable Writing Exchange”

Book Writing, A Numbers Game

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How many hours a day do you write? How long on average does it take you to write a book?

When I saw this week’s Open Book Blog Hop prompt, I laughed because it coincides with some realities I have had to face while participating in NaNoWriMo this month. The month-long writing challenge is meant to get writers to sit themselves down and finish a set goal during November.

Although I signed up for NaNoWriMo years ago, I had not participated. Why? That’s for another blog post. This year, someone encouraged to consider using NaNoWriMo as a tool to complete book four in the Brothers in Law romance series. Brandon and Hawwah want their story out there,  so I agreed.  I am half-way through the challenge and only have a little over 4k of my 50k goal achieved. I have been writing but not just the manuscript.

nanowrimo

Continue reading “Book Writing, A Numbers Game”

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