Category Archives: Guest Author

Mini Interview with Courtney Milan

[Aidee here!] Courtney Milan generously answered some questions I had following the release of her most recent novel, After the Wedding. I have not yet read this book, and this mini-interview contains no spoilers. After the Wedding is the second full-length novel in the Worth Saga, which begins with Once Upon a Marquess. Milan writes historical and contemporary romances; the Worth Saga is her current historical series. What I enjoy most about Milan’s books is the humor and the way she subverts common tropes. Without further ado, here is the mini-interview!

First, I’d like to know how you think authors can change romance’s centering of England in the historical genre, aside from not setting the story in England?

Once Upon a Marquess by Courtney Milan Book CoverHistoricals used to range the whole wide world and I think one of the reasons this stopped is because people very awkwardly realized that there were massive issues with unproblematically glamorizing certain portions of the past. Like there used to be a whole genre of southern historical romance novels that just…glossed over the issues with slavery? Yeah. Or the entire spectrum of historical titles involving stereotypical Native Americans, sometimes with racial slurs in the actual titles? Eeeeek. It seems almost horrific to me that those exist, and yet there were probably hundreds, if not thousands, published over the years. Continue reading

SAPAHM Guest: Ines Bautista-Yao on Filipino Characters in Filipino Settings

Hello friends!!! I’m thrilled to introduce another first time guest to A Little Bit Tart, A Little Bit Sweet. Ines Bautista-Yao was kind enough to respond to my request for guest posts for APAHM!I know that “#ownvoices” is the “trendy thing” right now but … it’s not a trend – it’s life, and I’m so pleased we’re able to continue celebrating SHM months!

Filipino Characters in Filipino Settings
By Ines Bautista-Yao

Growing up, my favorite books were by authors Enid Blyton, Carolyn Keene, Jahnna N. Malcolm, and Sheri Cobb South. I would lose myself in the adventures, heartaches, and triumphs of the characters. That was easy. Emotions, no matter where in the world you belonged, were universal. What wasn’t so easy was trying to imagine what it would be like to see what the characters saw, and to interact with people who had blue or even green eyes, and flaming red or flaxen hair. Funnily enough, my classmates and I didn’t know what flax was, but when we read “flaxen hair” in a book, we all knew it meant blonde. So whenever my classmates and I would write stories or imagine characters, they would more often than not have blue eyes and that so-called flaxen hair. It had gotten to a point where I would stay after a movie was over so I could read the credits and file away the last names in my mind. I didn’t know enough American last names for my characters, and movie credits were a good source of information.

It had never crossed my mind to write a story about a little Filipino girl like me. Continue reading

SAPAHM Guest: Ekaterine Xia Redux The Prequel: The Flatness of [Western] Romance

Hi friends! Do you remember the first 2018 APAHM post we had? Ekaterine Xia was our guest and I talked about how I’d messed up? So I found the emails from 2014 – she agreed to let me use the first post as a comparison, since she piggybacked off of it to write the May 5th one! (Are you confused yet?) In 2014 she said she’d tell me which book covers she wanted me to use … but that didn’t happen so I’m going with my picks. 😀 The most important thing though, is of course the post. Enjoy! N.B. I came up with the ~title. Because I think it’s accurate.

The Flatness of [Western] Romance

So it all started when Limecello tweeted with:

New quest! Any African American, Asian American, Hispanic, or Native American romance readers around? 😀

So I responded with: “Chinese person who reads romance over here. …I think I qualify as As-A?”

Not Just Human by E. Xia CoverThe thing is, it isn’t that easy. It’s the short answer.

The long answer is that I’m a third-culture-kid, aka global nomad, aka syncretic mutt of a first-gen fresh off the boat kind-of Asian American.

I was born in Taiwan, but we moved to the US when I was two. So technically Mandarin Chinese is my first language, but not by much. I grew up mainly in the US and it’s where I call home, no matter how much border control seems to disagree. Continue reading

SAPAHM Guest: Chris Mariano on Air, Sea, and Birth: How the Filipino Community Has Grown in Alaska

Hi friends! Please welcome first time guest Christ Mariano to ALBTALBS! I really hope you take the time not only to read what is said, but also think about the history, and [cross] cultural aspects. <3

Air, Sea, and Birth: How the Filipino Community Has Grown in Alaska

Wired Differently by Chris Mariano Book CoverIn downtown Juneau, a raven takes about six hops to get from one wall of flowers to the other. He is watching, waiting, from his spot. To call his tiny public space a park would be an exaggeration; the droves of tourists descending from the cruise ships might easily dismiss it as a traffic junction. But this is Manila Square, a little piece of (my) home 5,898 miles away from an eponymous city, belonging just as much to the ravens and the wild Alaskan landscape as it does to the many Filipinos who have come to Juneau ‘by air, by sea, or by birth.’

By Air

Many Asians know the drill. When visiting another person’s home, it is more polite to leave your shoes by the door. Wait for house slippers. Offer to go barefoot, even. This is how you show your respect.

I wonder if other immigrants feel this way, too. Like you’ve left your shoes by the door, next to the life you used to lead. You can walk through this new house knowing where the cutlery and the best china are kept—maybe you even have permission to bring them out and host your own dinner party—but you know better. You’ll always feel like a guest too paranoid about overstaying her welcome.

I feel it sharply here in Alaska. Its people are warm even in the coldest weather, but the land can never be subdued into domesticity or familiarity. From fur trappers to gold prospectors to salmon canners to oil drillers, many people, including Asians, have come to Alaska seeking fortune or adventure or escape. My own family has chosen to live in Juneau—papers in hand, figurative shoes by that invisible threshold but somehow clinging to most of the baggage we’ve accumulated over the years. And while our migration story is rather common, it still amazes me that so many Filipinos would leave a home in the tropics to settle in a place known for its long and dark winters. Continue reading

SHM APAHM Guest Georgette Gonzales: When Creativity Blooms Late In Life

Hi friends! I’m really excited to welcome Georgette Gonzales to A Little Bit Tart, A Little Bit Sweet! She was kind enough to respond to my call on twitter (and hat tip thanks to Chachic too!) to guest for APAHM! She really does the introducing in her post, so read on!

When Creativity Blooms Late In Life

My Special Valentine by Edith Joaquin CoverMany, if not most, of what I read in writers’ interviews detailing their backgrounds and writing journeys tell of a kid with a vivid imagination, writing stories down in a notebook, keeping their work underneath all other school stuff (because it’s their deep, dark secret) or sometimes sharing the precious words with a few trusted family members and friends. Often, those who would read their work ask for more, so they continue to craft and create, write and compile, amassing notebook upon notebook of maybe fantastic and not-so-fantastic tales that later may be turned into bestsellers. At any rate, the voices in their heads would not stop until the stories were written so might as well indulge their yet-to-be-identified-as fans (and imaginary friends), right?

I, unfortunately, do not have this kind of back story. I didn’t even know I could write until I was…shall we say, forced into it because of my job. Continue reading

Decades: A Journey of African American Romance Guest Author Carla Buchanan – When Inspiration Slaps You in the Face

Hi friends! Can you believe that we’re into the 1950s already? May! If you have no idea what I’m talking about … you can check out the information and excellent previous posts here.But! Today, we welcome first time A Little Bit Tart, A Little Bit Sweet guest Carla Buchanan

PRIDE AND PASSION is the sixth book in the Decades: A Journey of African American Romance series. This series consists of 12 books, each set in one of 12 decades between 1900 and 2010. Each story focuses on the romance between African American protagonists, but also embraces the African American experience within that decade. Join the journey on our Facebook page

When Inspiration Slaps You in the Face

Pride and Passion by Carla Buchanan CoverHow does any writer decide what to write about? How does any writer decide what two characters to focus on or what story to tell?

If you have the answers to these questions then stop reading right now, search this post for my email address, and send me a message with the correct answer because I’m at a loss. In most cases, I have no idea what I want from myself or what the readers may want from me. No lie; I spend so much time pacing my living room space, talking to myself, bouncing ideas off my 12-year-old dachshund (who is never any help at all), a person would probably think I’m insane. And though, the worn path in my carpet might actually be proof of my insanity, during one of these passes across I was actually inspired. It worked. I laid eyes on a picture of my grandmother-in-law across the room, and it all became clear. I found a love for writing and reading historical romances.

Now, in no way is PRIDE AND PASSION about my husband’s grandmother, but if you met the woman you’d know what I’m talking about. With a personality so huge, it can barely fit into a room, I knew I wanted bits and pieces of her strength, her vulnerability, her love for her family, her dedication, and her feistiness in each and every female character in PRIDE AND PASSION. She lived. She dated. She raised a family, and she matured during the 1950s. Just talking to her made me feel like I was transported to that time, further inspiring me toward the story I wanted to write.

As far as the military aspect in PRIDE AND PASSION, I have been fortunate enough to have married into a family with more than one member who has made a career in the military. The same woman who inspired my female characters was also a military wife just like my heroine. She lost her husband just like my heroine, but that’s where their stories part ways and PRIDE AND PASSION takes shape becoming the kind of historical slice of life story anyone can relate to, whether they were alive during the 1950s or not. It’s the kind of story you’ll say… Oh my God, I’ve heard about a town like that, people like that, or a place just like that from stories my mother, father, or grandparents have told me about.

I mean, who can’t relate to the pressures of family, the desire to live your own life, all while trying to find where you fit in. Just like we are influenced by the world around us, the characters in PRIDE AND PASSION are the same. I was inspired by how much like me, like us, people were during the 1950s. Continue reading

SAPAHM Guest: Ekaterine Xia on Circles and Cycles and Sometimes Spirals

Hi friends! Oh my gosh this blog post has been four years in the making. Ekaterine Xia first sent me a post in 2014 for APAHM and well, if you’re a “long time reader” you’ll know my life has been in shambles for pretty much this whole time but there was some extra going on then and ALBTALBS was pretty much on hiatus. And I do my utmost to avoid doing this sort of thing but – if there’s a someone else (which I think there might be but oh god for the life of me I don’t know/can’t remember) whose post I never scheduled or that I missed I am so very sorry. I’m sorry, please know I am truly deeply sorry, and it’s my fault.

… I already had this “conversation” with Ekaterine, so I wanted to share that. Anyway! This time WE’RE LIVE! Please give Ekaterine a warm welcome!

Circles and Cycles and Sometimes Spirals

Past Love's Triumph by E. Xia CoverFour years ago, I wrote a post about myself, the boundaries of romance, white privilege, and where a Chinese American third culture kid stood amidst the noise.

Now, Romancelandia is still dealing with privilege, erasure, and people fighting against those who want to keep the too-narrow gates shut.

Still the same issues, the same fights, but there’s more awareness, so I want to talk about happy endings and how my definition has shifted over the years instead of beating that drum further. For now. Continue reading

Guest N.J. Walters: Why We Need Romance Novels More Than Ever

Hi friends! I’m very pleased to welcome N.J. Walters to ALBTALBS! She’s a first time guest here, and we always love that! I frequently put out calls for guest posts and N.J. was kind enough to respond, so everyone please welcome her! This is a fantastic and timely post. Read on!

Why We Need Romance Novels More Than Ever

Shanna by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss CoverThe romance industry brings in more than a billion dollars in revenue a year in book sales. In spite of this, many people, including those in the mainstream media, often still refer to the romance genre with a snicker, calling the books bodice rippers.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love some of those older books—Kathleen Woodiwiss, Johanna Lindsey, Rosemary Rogers—the ones with the heroine’s ripped bodice and brooding hero on the cover. Those early writers paved the way for what we have today—a vibrant and diverse industry. From the beginning, romance authors have pushed the boundaries. The heroines in the stories are often successful business women in their own right. They’re mothers and sisters and daughters and friends. They’re part of the fabric of the community in which they work and live.

There’s nothing wrong with pure escapist fantasy. Now your traditional Science Fiction, Western, and Mystery genres all offer the same thing—an escape from reality—yet are rarely criticized in the same fashion as romance. Continue reading

Guest Eileen Dreyer: Physical Trauma on Characters

Hi friends! I’m really excited to welcome Eileen Dreyer back to ALBTALBS, and she’s got an excellent post. It ties into one I posted last week, written a long time ago about some pitfalls in romantic suspense. Eileen made a comment on FB a while back about what she says below and I was like “omg yes exactly!” Then I asked if she’d be willing to write a guest post about it, and here we are! 😀 Enjoy!

Don’t Shoot Him In The Shoulder

With a Vengeance by Eileen Dreyer Book CoverThis blog began the way a lot of conversations do around the bar at writers’ conferences. Somebody read a book in which the hero got shot and immediately rogered the daylights out of the heroine.

“I find that hard to believe.”

“Where’d he get shot?” I ask.

“Well, only in the shoulder….”

Ah, yes. The good old shoulder shot. On the screen everyone from Wild Bill Hickock to James Bond has shaken off the annoyance of a bullet in the shoulder as he saved the day. I mean, it’s a great place to shoot a hero (or heroine), isn’t it? There aren’t any major organs to worry about. Nothing but connective tissue.

Wrong. Besides the lungs, which have an annoying habit of getting in the way by expanding when we breathe, major blood vessels like the subclavian and brachial arteries run across the impact zone along with the brachial nerve, which impacts the entire arm. And that doesn’t even take into account the bones, from the easily fragmented collarbone (clavicle) to the humerus. Continue reading

Guest Author Lucy Monroe: Writing Imperfect People is Empowering

We are beyond excited to have author Lucy Monroe join us today to share with us how the current social climate changes thanks to movements such as #MeToo have changed, or not changed, how she writes romance. 

Kostas's Convenient Bride by Lucy Monroe Book CoverMay 1st is Protomagia in Greece, otherwise known as May Day (or Labor Day internationally), because this is the day that people take off work, and head for picnics in the countryside.  Honestly? I can’t imagine Andreas Kostas (Kostas’s Convenient Bride) taking the day off, any day off. I’m pretty sure that the years he spent living in Greece with his despised Georgas family, he never observed such a holiday.  He was too busy scheming for a way out. A way out of Greece, a way away from the family that caused his mother so much grief, a way to make his mark on the world without the Georgas influence.

Because he is an alpha hero, a man confident that he is supposed to have a place in the world and that place is not at the bottom of the ladder.  It’s at the top. He’s pretty damn sure that his best friend and business partner, Kayla Jones is supposed to be at the top with him.

But when he shows up in New York, tracking her down, she’s utterly shocked. Continue reading