kissing couple

Can you love me like you did
the first time we kissed
in that pressed against the wall,
breath stolen, full of surprise
kind of way, or is that why memory exists?

To tamp down sudden romantic gestures and
fits of fancy, remind you to proceed with caution
lest she break your heart or steal your soul while you sleep,
to build walls and keep her at bay – but did you
know tree-climbing was her favorite childhood sport
so your wall means nothing, she will try and scale it –
to protect yourself from her everything when
she might be your saving grace?

Can you love me like you did
the first time we kissed?
Then can you love me
all over again?

*photo credit: Leon Levinstein

The pieces of poetry on this blog and Write Bitches are works of fiction, erupting from my incredibly over-active imagination. And my unending love for all things romance.

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Getting Proustian With…JOHNALYNN HOLLAND – The Interview Series

A couple of weeks ago I was one of the lucky few given the opportunity to make my way to Warren, Rhode Island — the tiniest town in the tiniest state — and commune with five other writers for two weeks at the Rhode Island Writers Colony. I’m only going to say a few words about RIWC2017 right now — it was magic and if you’re a writer of color, oh hell yes! you should apply — because that’s another post for another day. I’m really more excited to chat for a second about one of the RIWC writers: Johnalynn Holland.

Affectionately known to our group as The Queen of the Savage Slay.


I met Johnalynn on a quiet Sunday afternoon as everyone was arriving into Warren and staking space around the house. She was at the table with two of the other writer-residents, CP Patrick and Liz Acevedo, and since CP and I were already friends, she made the formal introductions. I remember thinking two things as I shook Johnalynn’s hand and said hi: 1) I love her glasses and 2) she is mad cool.

For  the record, her glasses are fierce and after living with her for two weeks, sharing a bathroom, cooking meals, laughing, drinking, writing, and building a cereal box camera together to watch the eclipse (then walking around town with said cereal box camera because we were hungry and needed to eat, but were also geeking out on the eclipse), I can tell you for certain, Johnalynn is mad cool. She’s also a little crazy, as evidenced by the mind-boggling excel spreadsheet she created — and uses!! — in conjunction with writing her novel. I could be wrong, but I think folks in the house asked her to share it with them. She offered to share it with me, too.  I gave her a look that screamed keep that monster to yourself, sweetheart and we both just laughed. Like I said, she’s mad cool.

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She’s also a brilliant writer filled with an uncanny ability to breathe life into her young adult characters with such honesty and humor that when you meet them, you know them. You can hear and feel them, you can smell them. You knew kids like them. You might be raising kids like them. Johnalynn is funny and cutting and wise, and you live all the many versions of her through those kids in her work.

Our RIWC2017 crew was so lucky – we got to sit around the table for group readings and  night after night, listen to her story to come to life. After that first round-table, we all had a favorite character and I think Johnalynn got pretty used to hearing one of us ask is Tika in this chapter?  as we settled in each evening with our laptops, our wine, and our words.

Fingers crossed she finishes her manuscript soon and the world gets a taste of her magic, her kids, and her special brand of savage slay. Until then, this little Proustian exercise will have to do.

  1. What is your idea of perfect happiness? being able to create unencumbered
  2. What is your greatest fear? dying in obscurity
  3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? too critical and too self conscious about my work
  4. What is the trait you most deplore in others?  dishonesty and the inability to empathize
  5. Which living person do you most admire?  toni morrison
  6. What is your greatest extravagance?  my glasses and my health
  7. What is your current state of mind?  anxious
  8. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?  leadership
  9. On what occasion do you lie?  when a dentist asks “Does this hurt?”
  10. What do you most dislike about your appearance? my forehead
  11. Which living person do you most despise?  #45
  12. What is the quality you most like in a man?  emotional intelligence
  13. What is the quality you most like in a woman? emotional intelligence
  14. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?  um, nah, that’s fine, i’m good
  15. What or who is the greatest love of your life? my daughter
  16. When and where were you happiest? loading….
  17. Which talent would you most like to have? i want to be an acrobat with a big butt
  18. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? believe in myself at a younger age
  19. What do you consider your greatest achievement? raising an ambitious child
  20. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?  an acrobat with a big butt
  21. Where would you most like to live?  new york city
  22. What is your most treasured possession?  cameras that belonged to my grandparents
  23. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? murder
  24. What is your favorite occupation?  chef
  25. What is your most marked characteristic? creativity
  26. What do you most value in your friends? honesty
  27. Who are your favorite writers?  toni morrison, august wilson
  28. Who is your hero of fiction?  shug avery
  29. Which historical figure do you most identify with?  frida kahlo
  30. Who are your heroes in real life?  spike lee, bradford young, halie gerima
  31. What are your favorite names?  elizabeth, brown
  32. What is it that you most dislike?  people who lack critical thinking skills
  33. What is your greatest regret?  every time i didn’t listen to my instincts
  34. How would you like to die?  as 97 year old woman in the middle of a jewelry heist
  35. What is your motto?   live and let live

NiumtGAs_400x400Johnalynn Holland is a Washington, DC-based transmedia producer, documentary/television editor and writer. A native of Emporia, Virginia she  finished Howard University’s Graduate Film Program in 2005 with a concentration in Screenwriting. In 2003, Johnalynn was named a Screenwriting Fellow in the ABC/Disney New Talent Development Program. During this program, she wrote the screenplay “B-Girls and Ballet Dreams.” It won the African American Women in Cinema Best Screenplay award and led to a IFP/New York Gordon Parks Emerging Writer nomination.  She is also the winner of the Puffin Award and the DC Artists Commission of the Arts and Humanities Grant.

Johnalynn likes to use humor to distill the contradictions and complexities of the African American experience that include economic hardships, family/relationship discord, class divisions and mental health issues.  She has edited for numerous networks including BET, Centric, CBS and ABC.

My Favorite Poem



I cannot look upon you
without seeing poetry
it cannot be helped
even when I don’t
want it to happen
it does
the most beautiful rhythms
and movement
of words and meaning
in a perfect
thump thump
like the beat of my heart
when your lips
trace the curve of my throat
and touch my soul
in tenderness and heat
the poetry of
love and touch
you and I
wrapped around each other
you are my poem
an endless amalgam
of all that is
good and
bad and
everything I love
the bits of you
I hold close
when we’re apart
the seconds I count
until we are
your name dances along
my lips
curves around my waist
and kisses my toes
you thrum a beat
in my blood
that words try to capture
but only my heart
truly hears
you captivate me
blushed remembrances
of words shared
promises made
my favorite sounds
uh-huhs oh yeahs
please don’t stops
live within your fingertips
your smile
in your presence
poetry becomes vivid and
where all I crave
is to find meaning
in the magic of us
the words
I cannot look upon you
without it happening
you are
my favorite poem

The pieces of poetry on this blog and Write Bitches are works of fiction, erupting from my incredibly over-active imagination. And my unending love for all things romance.

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DreamSeries: Author Reading with @madhuriwrites – June 21st – NYC

That would be me.

This Wednesday, June 21st, I’m teaming up with Julie Young’s DreamMaker 3D and 3.1 Phillip Lim to read from DUTCH and JUMA, books I and II in The Keeper Series.

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The fun begins at 6:30 at Lim’s showroom in NYC at 48 Great Jones Street with FREE cocktails and discounts on the gorgeous clothing.

The reading begins around 7, to be followed by a Q&A with Julie, and a Kindle giveaway to one lucky soul who buys copies of the books.

So if you’re in the area and love some paranormal romance, or even just love some free alcohol, stop by the showroom, grab a drink, say hello to me, and maybe stay for some words.

*please RSVP your attendance to newyork@31philliplim.com


#Writing Contemporary Romance: AMAL, Part 12


The previous post in this serial was an introduction to Andrew.

Andrew, Andrew, Andrew.

I kind of love him.

I love Jackson, too, mostly because he’s based on a guy I dated and loved in that way you love someone when you’re young and free and full of fire.

But Andrew is the person you meet when life gets interesting. Meaning, it starts getting complicated and too fast and you either let the madness swallow you whole or you meet it head on. And deal.

Andrew is all of the fuckery, tatted up, sexy, and smart AF, coming at you full speed ahead.

And to that, I say bring it.

All of it.

Or should I say, all of him…


I saw her long before she saw me, mostly because I was looking, completely incapable of casting my glance anywhere but the door every time it opened.

Dax was right. Even from across the room, Jackson Rashard Davis was a force to be reckoned with, stealing the show the minute he and Amal crossed the threshold and entered the party. But she was just as brilliant, maybe even more so in her slight hesitance and discomfort with the introductions and salutations. She smiled and laughed and charmed everyone Jackson knew, but here and there her jaw would clench or she would glance around as if somewhat bored by the fuss. It was in those moments I knew she and I were somewhat alike. Both of us here, at this party for people we loved so much, we slogged through the inanity of the bourgeois because it mattered to them. 

I wondered if Jackson knew what a lucky fuck he was?

Maybe he did, but most likely he was past the point of such ruminations. I did my research, Amal and Jackson had been a couple for more than three years, with some slight breaks here and there, but always coming back to one another. So yeah, I’m sure once upon a time he viewed her through the same prism as I, but based upon his body language with the attractive older woman who couldn’t stop touching him and fawning over every word he uttered, I gathered Amal was no longer the center of his everything. Not that Jackson didn’t love her, but he probably loved himself a little more. 

Just my two cents.

“Has no one ever told you it’s incredibly rude to gawk at another man’s woman?”

Laughter and a smack on the back brought me face-to-face with one of my oldest friends, Philippe Narcisse, Afro-French beautiful bastard but for the gash running down the side of his face, care of a terrible childhood car accident. We met during a skateboard camp in London the summer we turned twelve and had been thick as thieves ever since. While I was busy learning the ropes at Maynard Brothers, he was running one of the most successful custom tailors in the city. Bespoke was that motherfucker’s middle name. 

“Fuck you,” I tossed back the remains of my whiskey and set the glass down on the bar. 

“You mean fuck her,” Philippe laughed and ordered a scotch. “And if you don’t, goddamn, I will.”

I raised a brow and shot him a look.

“You’re taken,” I informed as I brought another whiskey to my lips, “and last time I checked, so is Ms. Naipaul.” 

“Yes, yes, so I’ve heard a million times since she walked into the room,” Philippe cast a glance Amal’s way, his eyes resting on her ass because seriously, how could they not. “Apparently, she doesn’t do these things. Ever. But she’s here tonight and for some reason it’s a big, fucking deal.”

Philippe laughed mischievously before adding, “I don’t care why she’s here, I’m just glad she is because fuuuuuuck, that ass makes me think some wicked shit. I’m not even an ass man and she’s got me wanting to put my face all up in it.”

“All right, all right,” I glared at my friend and he grinned. 

“I knew it, Maynard,” Philippe tossed his head in Amal’s direction. “Spit it out. I know you, motherfucker, and I know you know her.”

“I don’t know her any more than you do.”

“You cannot bullshit a bullshitter,” Philippe insisted. “I want the story, with all the juicy bits, like how that ass feels when you’ve got your hands all over it.”

“Fucking christ, man,” I laughed. “Ease up.”

Philippe leaned back on his heels, studied me for a second, then burst into deep peals of laughter, so loud several heads at the bar turned our way, curious as to his amusement. I tossed back my whiskey and ordered another, delighting my friend even further. He smacked me on the back again and kissed my cheek, long and loud and sloppy.

“Come on,” I pushed him off me, “control yourself.”

“I believe one Amal Naipaul has gotten under the skin of New York City’s most eligible bachelor,” Philippe said with a grin. “So as much as it pains me, in respect to you and because I love you like a brother, I shall cease making vile cracks about her splendid ass.”

“I’m certain the very lovely Sylvie,” I raised a brow in Philippe’s direction, “who last time I checked, remains your very devoted and stunning girlfriend, would love to hear all the filth escaping your lips concerning a certain derriere.”

Philippe stole another glance at Amal and sucked in his breath. “Mais oui, Sylvie would love to hear it and then join in my admiration, being the ass woman that she is.”

I couldn’t help but laugh. He was incorrigible. 

“For the record, her name is Amal Warrier Naipaul,” I tipped my drink in his direction and smirked, “and she is the most stunning woman ever created.”

Philippe let my words sink in for a second, took a sip of his drink, and shook his head while shaking a warning finger in my face. I pushed his hand away and waited for whatever advice I knew my friend could not help dispensing. 

“Did you fuck her, Andrew?”

“Nah, man,” I shook my head. “Not at all.”

He squinted his eyes and waited, as if by doing so he could tell whether or not I was being truthful. “Did you think about fucking her?”

“The second I saw her and every second afterwards,” I admitted to him and myself, “until I learned of Jackson. And then I forgot her.”

“Now you’re lying, Maynard,” Philippe squeezed my shoulder affectionately. “No one forgets an ass like that. But if you didn’t fuck her, what’d you do? Dinner? Drinks? Spill it.”

“Just a chat, and if I’m being honest, it probably didn’t last longer than five minutes.”

“Longest five minutes of your life, my friend,” Philippe noted, “that much is written all over your face.”

I started to protest when long, lean arms circled my waist and warm lips pressed to my neck. Sylvie. Only Sylvie could make the simplest hello so goddamned sexy. 

Mon cher,” she whispered in my ear as she ran a perfectly manicured hand down Philipp’s arm. “My two sexies. The things we could do together,” she whispered as she slipped between us and settled herself onto Philippe’s lap. He pulled her close and sucked on her ear while Sylvie practically purred in delight. It was sensual and endearing and so very Philippe and Sylvie. 

“Get a room,” I groused.

“With Amal’s name on it? Happily,” Philippe joked and immediately pricked Sylvie’s interest, something I knew he intended.  

“Amal?” Sylvie’s eyes widened as she played with the rim of her champagne flute, “as in Naipaul? As in Doctors for Hope?”

“As in Jackson Davis’s girlfriend,” Philippe added with a laugh. 

Sylvie rolled her eyes as she kissed his cheek. “Ignore him, Andrew, he’s a horrible gossip and probably loves the fact you haven’t been able to take your eyes off that woman all night.”

And now it was Sylvie’s turn to look rather impish and incorrigible.

“Fuck both of you,” I replied and they laughed as Sylvie pulled me close for a kiss.

“She is lovely and her behind has me captivated,” Sylvie whispered in my ear, “but she is very taken and Jackson is very tall and incredibly strong and impossibly fuckable. Just please watch your heart.” She kissed me again before leaning back into Philippe’s embrace. 

I touched her furrowed brow as if to smooth it out and smiled. “You have nothing to worry about, Sylvie. My heart is as cold and dead as ever.”

She smiled sadly and kissed my hand. “Well, in that case, my concerns are all for naught, mon cher.”

We chatted a bit longer before Sylvie begged off due to an early-morning photo shoot and Philippe happily trailed after her, thankful for the excuse to leave the festivities. 

“Don’t shut the bar down, Maynard,” he smacked the back of my head and disappeared into the crowd, leaving me to my whiskey and thoughts. 

Which explained why, when I saw her sitting all alone, I couldn’t resist the temptation. I came up behind her, leaned close, and paused. Not because I intended to but because she smelled like heaven and I got lost in her for a second. Recovering before she was any the wiser, I held my breath and took a leap of faith.

“Amal Warrier Naipaul, have you fucked your professor yet?”

Andrew knows better, he just can’t help himself. Amal is all kinds of magic. Happy weekend, gorgeous people.

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Five Stars for JUMA


The first review of JUMA is in and it’s kind of stellar:

5.0 out of 5 stars – WORD LOVE
By CScole on June 9, 2017
Format: Kindle Edition

The author has the ability to craft exquisitely formed sentence, that I found myself mouthing the words to see if the motion felt as beautiful in action as they were to read, and think. The story is a complex mosaic of characters and positions, but at the same time is very basic, raw, and primal, lust, love, need, want, and violence.

Juma is wonderful character simple, vulnerable, fearful, and yet forced to become strong, violent, and fearsome. Dutch is beyond complicated a man of words and a multitude of thoughts and less action, while Juma is all action and a single thought. At 90% I found myself looking at the percentage screaming in my head no it can’t be near the end, every page I looked at the percentage thinking there has to be more needs to be more, right until the end.

I was given an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

Yea Juma and all her fierce magic.

I love that badass woman.


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Buy links for DUTCH:

HERE for Amazon
HERE for Kobo
HERE for B&N
HERE for iBooks
HERE for Google Play

Buy Links for JUMA:

HERE for Amazon
HERE for Kobo
HERE for B&N
HERE for iBooks
HERE for Google Play

Two Days Until JUMA



Forty-eight hours.

Two thousand eight hundred eighty minutes.

One hundred seventy two thousand eight hundred seconds.

And more of this will be coming your way…

I spoke those words knowing da would hear them differently than intended, but fine with such a misunderstanding. Now was hardly the moment to explain my true self to him, now was hardly the moment to tell him I died thirty years ago on a gurney in Grady Memorial from a gunshot wound to my tiny throat, now was hardly the moment to explain that life and death were more fluid than he could ever imagine.
Now was the time for bigger things.

— Juma, The Keeper Series Book II

This book is love and magic and reckoning.

And it’s almost here.

I cannot wait.

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Buy links for DUTCH:

HERE for Amazon
HERE for Kobo
HERE for B&N
HERE for iBooks
HERE for Google Play

Pre-Order Links for JUMA:

HERE for Amazon
HERE for Kobo
HERE for B&N
HERE for iBooks
HERE for Google Play