Friday, March 11, 2016

Exciting News from Secret Squirrel Reporting for Duty

So far 2016 has been a whole bunch of craziness for me, both good and bad. There were health issues that had me clutching my blankie and crying for my momma, more doctors visits than I care to recount and an upcoming surgery. Yet, despite all of the drama, there have been a few exciting things happening.

When 2015 ended I was hard at work putting together my first indie series, Playing with Bad Boys. The series was plotted. The first book and a prequel novella, Playing by the Rules, were written. All I needed to do was format the prequel to the series for release as a free read to my VIP Readers first before it went on sale to the public. However, in the midst of that process, I received an unexpected email from Harlequin.

Back in the summer of 2015, I'd proposed my Playing with Bad Boys series to Harlequin's Kimani Romance, with which several of my fellow Hot M.A.M.A.s are already published. I nudged them a few months later, with no response. I moved on with plans to indie publish the series. So I was pleasantly surprised (okay, completely shocked) when I received a request for the full manuscript of Book #1 in the series.

A few weeks later I received the call and was offered what is now a 4-book and holiday novella deal. A week ago I inked the contract and sent it on its merry way. In the last two days the new title of the series, which I shared with my VIP Readers earlier today, and the title of each book have been determined. Expect the first book in the series to make its way onto bookshelves in March of 2017.

I'm thrilled to join the long list of fabulous past and present Kimani Romance authors, like Kianna Alexander, Cheris Hodges, Altonya Washington, Jamie Pope, Farrah Rochon, Sharon C. Cooper, Nana Malone and Brenda Jackson.

And what about the prequel to the series? I'm glad to announce that I'll still be able to share it with my VIP Readers as a free read. However, you'll have to wait a little longer. Though the book is already completed, the edits to Book 1 may prompt a few changes in the prequel's story line. So expect the prequel to be released to my VIP Readers in December of this year and on sale to the public on February 3, 2017.

No more secret squirrel. I'm back in action, baby.

Happy Reading!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Oh, brother!

Hi, kittens!

I'm in full-on writer mode right now. I have at least two stories I working on right now for Phaze Books. The first is Addicted to Love. If you read Slave to Love, you may remember the characters Lord No and Bubbles. This story will explore how those two got together and what happened to them after the show. Check out the cover below. Hot, right?

The other story I'm working on is No Ordinary Love. There was another character in Slave to Love who "spoke" to me. As I was writing Slave to Love, I knew at some point I was going to write Sweetheart's story. She, out of all of the characters, needed to get her Dom. Check out the cover for that book below. Hot, too, right? I cannot wait for both of these stories to come out through Phaze Books, which should be sometime in 2016.
Now on to other pressing items. On my "good girl" side, writing as Crystal B. Bright (real name - I swear), I have a series at Lyrical Press called the Mama's Boys series. Why Mama's Boys? I liked the idea of having men who are truly good to their mother. You know the saying. A man who is good to his mother will be just as good to the woman he's dating.

Book one of the series is The Look of Love. Right now, the book is on sale for only $0.99! Here's the blurb:

You can’t fight love…

There’s only one thing MMA fighter Gunnar Wells is more devoted to than his career, and that’s his mother, “Queen” Elizabeth. An elegant African-American woman who adopted Gunnar and his two white brothers, Elizabeth was there when they needed her, and they’ll do anything for her. For Gunnar, that means running her hair salon when she suddenly falls ill. And if that’s not awkward enough for the champion fighter, he’ll have to work alongside Eboni Danielson, the other love of his life. The one he left behind to pursue his dream. The one he’s never forgotten…

Between the salon and her volunteer work, Eboni keeps busy to keep her mind off the man who broke her heart. So when Gunnar shows up again, she does her best to stay cool—on the outside. But the more she watches Gunnar step up and help out, the less she can deny her feelings. Soon Gunnar is doing everything he can to convince Eboni to give him a fighting chance. Can she trust him again—even when old secrets and new dangers come between them once more?

The first book covers the struggles of the oldest brother, Gunnar Wells. Book two of the series, Forget Me Not, will detail the middle brother's career as an NFL quarterback, his struggles running his mother's flower shop, and fighting back his romantic feeling toward the woman who owns a competing flower shop. This book goes on sale tomorrow, Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016! Can you tell I'm a little excited? Check out the cover below.

Here's the blurb:

Roses are red, violets are blue.

Only one woman could make NFL star Gideon Wells walk away from the Super Bowl: His Mama, "Queen" Elizabeth, the beautiful, strong black woman who adopted him and his two white brothers when they were just kids. So when Elizabeth develops a pressing health issue, Gideon doesn’t hesitate to come home and run the flower shop she loves almost as much as her boys. But there’s an unexpected complication in Queen Elizabeth’s shop: and that complication looks really good in a gardener’s apron and pruning gloves.

This mama’s boy has a naughty side too.

Janelle Gold has always thought of herself as a geek, more into books than sports, preferring brains over brawn. So a gorgeous jock like Gideon Wells is not exactly the type she usually goes for. But there’s something about the hot quarterback that makes Janelle think sometimes opposites do attract, and it’s not just his dedication to his family, or the fact that he can hold his own in the flower shop. There’s just something irresistible about a man who stops to smell the roses.

And talked about perfect timing for the release. While your man enjoys the Super Bowl, you can be reading about your own sexy quarterback at his Super Bowl. Hope you dig Gideon Wells.

I'm so excited about the release of this book, I'm willing to give a lucky reader a copy! Well, "give" is a loose term. You are going to have to work for it. :) I'm going to ask some questions based on The Look of Love. Yes, you need to have read that book to win the 2nd book. Answer these five questions below by 5 p.m. EST on Tuesday, February 2nd and I'll send you an ebook for Forget Me Not. Post your answers in the comments box below. The first to answer all 5 answers correctly will win!

Are you ready to play? Here are the questions:

1.) What's the name of the opponent Gunnar Wells fights at the opening of the book?

2.) What's the name of the opponent Gunnar's agent wants Gunnar to fight next?

3.) What's the name of the community center where Eboni volunteers her time?

4.) You know in the first book, "Queen" Elizabeth Sommerville owns a hair salon. The second book will be centered on her second business at a flower shop. What's the 3rd business "Queen" Elizabeth owns?

5.) What's the name of the restaurant where Gunnar and Eboni have dinner together once she finally agrees to go out with him?

That's right, kittens. You need to have paid attention to what you read. Tick tock! Tick tock! Don't wait.

Now I need to get back to work.

Stay sexy,


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

#OscarsSoWhite: or Why I Started Hot MAMA

Hey, Y'all :)

It's been a while since I posted here, mostly because of the holidays. I tend to fall down the rabbit hole of distraction and disorganization when I'm on 24 hour kid duty for long periods of time, LOL. Well school is back in and I'm getting back to work.
By now, I'm sure you're aware of the upcoming 2016 Oscars, and the controversy surrounding the slate of nominees. I heard "Jenna" from Radar Online this morning on the my local radio station. She referred to the nominees as "heavily white."
That's a cute way to say it, Jenna.

Driving my car down the freeway, I LOL'ed, y'all. That is like saying, "Boy, that snow drift over there is heavily white." Or, "Did you notice how heavily white that bowl of rice is?"
The Oscar nominations (at least for on-screen talent) this year are not "heavily while." They are COMPLETELY white.

Having cleared that up, let's move on.

I'm not here to debate whether the Oscars are ignoring or marginalizing the work of people of color in Hollywood; I think we all know the truth on that. But hearing so much about this in the media, including the whole boycott thing, and the video by Jada Pinkett-Smith, and the response by the still embittered Janet Hubert (petty much?), made me think about why I started Hot MAMA in the first place.

When I started Hot MAMA back in 2012, I wanted to accomplish several things, including cross promotion and raising the profile of authors of color from my geographic region. But the most important mission of Hot MAMA is SISTERHOOD. Camaraderie, cooperative effort, and a safe place for us. As women of color in the publishing industry, we face pretty much the same uphill battle as people of color in Hollywood do, when it comes to having our talents recognized, acknowledged, and celebrated.
We are working HARD, y'all. 

At the heart of Hot MAMA is the same mission I see being carried out by Rebekah Weatherspoon with her WOCinRomance accounts on Twitter/Tumblr, by the brilliant ladies behind Girl Have You Read and Romance Novels in Color, by Wayne Jordan and his staff and Romance in Color, and by KM Jackson with her #WeNeedDiverseRomance campaign. We simply want our work to be read and respected, just as our mainstream counterparts have enjoyed and come to expect. Part of that is in forming groups, and another part of it is in bringing attention to the work we do. I, for one, am proud to be a part of such a vibrant, intelligent and accomplished community of women of color.

If you're boycotting the Oscars, or just not watching because you never watch anyway, I hope you'll fill the time with a great book written by an author of color instead.

Until Next Time,

 Fall Into Romance 2016 Registration

Be sure to register for my Disney event, coming up this October. Join the party as we celebrate Black romance with some of your favorite authors. (Click the image to go to the registration page.)

Monday, January 4, 2016

Happy New Year!

Hi, kittens!

Happy New Year! Can you believe one year is down and we're starting a new one? As always, the start of the new year makes people reflective, including me. So when I think of the past year, I think about all the great things that have happened. For one, I've had several releases.

Slave to Love available in ebook and print through Phaze Books.

Is This Love? available in ebook and print through Phaze Books. 

And "Learning the Hard Way" available in ebook through All Romance eBooks.
Under my real name, Crystal B. Bright, I released my first book in more than ten years. The Look of Love is the first book in the Mama's Boys series and is available in ebook and print through Lyrical Press.

 Book 2, Forget Me Not, will be out February 2016 in ebook and print from Lyrical Press. Talk about starting off the year right!

And book 3, Head Over Heels, will be out August 2016 in ebook and print from Lyrical Press. My year is already starting off right.
It feels so good to be productive again. If I want to keep on that path, I have to set goals for myself. I'll need to make a writing schedule and keep to it. So I'm cutting this post short. I'll get with you all next month to talk about Forget Me Not.

Stay sexy,