Friday, January 29, 2016

Survey says ... Multicultural Romance

Hawaii taught me diversity ...

I discovered Buzzr TV during Winter Storm Jonas. The cable station replays game shows from the 80s - Match Game, Super Password, Card Sharks, and Family Feud with Richard Dawson. During Family Feud's Fast Money, Dawson asked, "Name an occupation that makes people feel good."  

My answer, of course, was romance writer.  Romance creates hope. Romance sparks love. Romance delivers the Happily Ever After.  I intended to write more about this topic ... but a family feud has erupted in Romanceland.  A feud that needs to be addressed. 

Freelance writer Bobbi Dumas posted an article on Kirkus Reviews, New Year, New Reading Resolution, at this link.   Bobbi introduced her month long promotion of Celebrating Diversity in Romance at this link.

Scroll to the second comment to read the questions posted by historical author Courtney Milan

Bobbi responded to Courtney in a second post at this link.

Courtney posted a summary of the issues on her own blog, Speaking up against systemic racism in the publishing industry, at this link.  She wrote,
If you care about romance and the future of the romance genre, why aren’t you angry with me?

Wendy the Super Librarian adds her thoughts, The One Where Wendy Talks About Diversity, at this link.

I understand Courtney's anger.  I've seen injustice in the military, as an officer and a spouse.  I have witnessed officers and their spouses, who had the means and opportunity to address injustice, simply ignore it.  I have reported unethical behavior to commanders, only to find myself the target of retribution.  I know my actions made a difference, but it was painful to be isolated by my own community.  This happened during my family's last year in Hawaii when my husband was away in Korea.  Two other military spouses kept me sane - NL Gassert, author of Gay Fiction, and D. Renee Bagby, author of Interracial Fantasy/Paranormal Romance. 

Nadja and the Laie Sea Arch

Nadja, Renee, and I met on a weekly basis to tour the island. We would chat about books, TV, and movies. I would share my adventures at conventions. I think they would have enjoyed the 2014 RT Booklovers Convention in New Orleans, especially the Welcome Party (link). RT sponsored the delicious crepe breakfast along with a salute to romance trailblazers, including:

- Lindsay McKenna as the pioneer of Military Romances (she is a Vietnam era Navy veteran)

- Heather Graham for her efforts to revitalize New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina

- Brenda Jackson, Sandra Kitt, and Beverly Jenkins for pioneering multicultural romance.

Sadly, the audience talked through Lindsay's comments. Then, most of the audience walked out after they finished their crepes just as Kathryn Falk took to the stage to introduce the multicultural pioneers.  They missed hearing how these women overcame challenges to bring their stories to life in romance novels.  I was embarrassed that many attendees did not take the time to hear these legends. From this experience, I understand why multicultural writers feel dismissed by the romance industry.

(I will ask RT if they recorded the Welcome Party.  If the staff did, I will encourage RT to post it on YouTube ... it is worth watching!)

File:LoC Barse Romance.jpg
Barse's Romance in the Library of Congress
Public Domain (link)

In February 2015, I attended a special symposium, What Is Love? Romance in the Digital Ageat the Library of Congress (link, link, link, and link).  The first panel, Romance Canon, featured multicultural pioneer Beverly Jenkins.  As I wrote on my blog,

I borrowed a pen from the lovely lady next to me - a fan of Beverly Jenkins - so I could take notes. I uncapped the pen just in time to hear Beverly discuss that African American romance has been absent from romance canon. She added that it took Terry McMillan's WAITING TO EXHALE to hit the best seller for the publishing industry to realize black women actually read books (Beverly was very funny in her delivery).

I skipped the second panel to watch the documentary Love Between the Covers (link).  The film spotlighted the everyday lives of several authors, including Beverly Jenkins.  She spoke to the camera (paraphrase), "If readers can accept vampires fall in love, why can't they accept African Americans in a relationship?"  Beverly's comments still resonate with me.

One year later, Beverly's question has been answered with her latest release, FORBIDDEN.  It landed on Sarah MacLean's recommend reads for February in the Washington Post (link),

Jenkins does not shy away from the challenges that Eddy and Rhine and all black Americans face in the 1870s, and the truth of their journey makes this romance even more powerful when Rhine must reveal the truth to be worthy of Eddy’s love. This is historical romance at its very best.

Military friends at RT in Dallas
Tamara Argyle, Sharon Hamilton, Jackson Young,
 Siera London, and Kathy Crouch.

Back to Family Feud.  Dawson asked, "Name an occupation that makes people feel good."  The number one answer, "Nurse."  I immediately thought of Siera London.

I met Siera, a retired Navy nurse, during the 2014 RT Booklovers Convention in New Orleans.  She introduced herself to me as a fellow RomVet at the SOS America promo table. The following year, we bumped into each other at the Library of Congress.  She also attended RT in Dallas, where I invited her to be a guest on my blog (link).  

Thank you, Siera, for your service!


In celebration of nurses and authors, who make people feel good, I am giving away Siera's latest release, A DOCTOR FOR CHRISTMAS: A Bachelors of Shell Cove Romance Novella, to one randomly selected commenter.  To enter the giveaway,

1.  Siera currently lives in the Florida Keys - what do you know about the keys?  I grew up in Miami, so the Keys were a weekend escape where we enjoyed Key Lime Pie!

2.  Comments are open through Saturday, February 6, 10 pm in Baltimore.  

3.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, February 7.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City


More books from Siera London


  1. Excellent post. Was the crepe breakfast at RT just for authors? I don't remember the talk and I certainly didn't leave anything early. I enjoyed your military event. I sat at B. J. Daniels' table and had a wonderful conversation with her and her husband.
    I have visited the Keys only once. My husband and I spent 3 days and 2 nights in Key West. We really didn't have time to see all we wanted. The day we checked out of our B&B, we took the trip out to Dry Tortugas. It was the perfect day for the trip, clear skies and totally calm seas. The one draw back was the hear. It was about 105 in Fort Jackson. We hope to go back again and take time to explore. Key West is a bit more of a party place than we like, but there are other areas to explore.

    1. Aloha, Library Pat! Thanks for coming to the military event in New Orleans. It was scheduled for an awkward time so the fact that you came means that much more to me. The Welcome Party was the first event on Wednesday morning. Admittedly, it was a long program. I was just sad to see so many attendees leave, especially other authors who should have stayed in tribute to these pioneering authors. If this was a stand alone event, it might not be problematic, but I highlighted a series of events which contributed to my thoughts in this post. That being said, I will double me efforts to be more welcoming of multiculture authors and books on my blog.

  2. I don't know anything about the Florida Keys.

  3. I have been there once and my family does enjoy Key Lime Pie.

  4. I've been to Marathon and enjoyed it My husband works for Everglades National Park, and goes to Fort Jefferson at the Dry Tortugas a lot. He maintains all their communications.

  5. I've never made it quite that far south in Florida - there just never seems to be enough time but I'm sure it's fascinating.

  6. We traveled down the keys one year. I loved it. Would love to go back and visit again. I liked the lighthouse on Key West and the beautiful sunsets.

  7. Never been to the Keys......we drive as far as Jacksonville.