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General Chatting > Is it True That Black Romance Doesn't Sell?

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message 1: by Stacy-Deanne (new)

Stacy-Deanne Stacy-Deanne (wwwgoodreadscomstacydeanne) Hi All,

Is this true? This is what I am hearing from some black romance novelists and IR novelists who have written black romance. I know some black romance novelists who sell but they are big names and most are with the Kimani line. But overall does black romance sell? I don't know much about the genre but this interests me and I've talked to different people who write it, including some folks who've stopped writing it because they either can't get published in that genre or the sales are so low. I've also known some IR writers who wrote one or two black romances and they say these books were their lowest selling titles. One writer I know who was trying to get one published said that someone told her, "People don't wanna read about black couples." I'd hate to think that is true but would love some insight.

So do you think this is true?


message 2: by Arch , Mod (new)

Arch  | 6523 comments Mod
I will be honest, I don't really read black romance books. I do own some and if a black romance book catches my attention, I will buy it at a book sale. But, I don't know when I will read it. I have read some black romance books.

I know black women that buys black romance books.

Black romance books probably aren't selling like white romance books are, but they are selling. A lot of people that's not black will not buy or read a black romance book, whereas many black women will buy and read white romance books. A lot women from other races will buy white romance books as well and not read or buy a black romance book.

A lot of black romance books tends to have the sterotyping going on and that's why a lot of black peole don't read them.

I don't mind a good romance, but leave the sterotype out.

That's why I don't watch a lot of black movies. I have black people think something is wrong with me, because I'm not into black movies. But that's another topic. Please no one respond about the movies. Thanks.


message 3: by Stacy-Deanne (last edited Nov 17, 2010 02:49PM) (new)

Stacy-Deanne Stacy-Deanne (wwwgoodreadscomstacydeanne) Arch, I am just like you. So if something is wrong with you then there's something wrong with me too. I don't care what folks think. I don't like to watch black movies or read black stories either. The reason for me is that I find more blacks to be stereotypical with black characters than even some whites who create these characters. When blacks create a black character I wish they'd break the mold themselves and show how blacks can be different.

But the main reason I don't read black romance is because it's not my thing. I have read a few from friends who publish them but I'm not into black men so it's not anything I wanna read. I might be black but it's hard for me to relate to a lot of black romances for different reasons.

I know IR is selling though! LOL!

Best Wishes!


message 4: by Arch , Mod (new)

Arch  | 6523 comments Mod
lol Stacey, Now, I can live with IR (bw/wm)books that's in the line that I love reading.

I'm glad that I am a writer and can write tons of bw/wm stories,.


message 5: by CaliGirlRae, Mod Squad (new)

CaliGirlRae (Rae_L) | 2000 comments Mod
I'm with you guys, black movies tend to be very stereotypical unless they're more indie (like All About Us and this one movie Holly Robinson Peete I saw sometime ago) and I don't tend to read black romances. Although I have collected some because I like the story blurbs and wanted to check out the Kimani line. I agree with Stacy-Deanne that it would be cool if some black writers would break the mold rather that perpetuate past stereotypes.

IR is indeed still selling and from the looks of it with the new releases coming out, it's gaining more exposure in the mainstream!


message 6: by Nichelle (new)

Nichelle Gregory (NichelleGregory) | 6 comments Hi guys,

I had to weigh in on this topic because it's so near and dear to my heart. I've heard this mentioned more than once from other authors/writers and read about it around the web. If the answer is indeed true. I think it's sad for all authors and readers.

I totally agree with you guys about the majority of black movies being stereotypical so predictable they bore me to tears.

I don't want to read about the streets or watch movie projecting the same kind of concept in which the world views the black community. As an author, I've made it my mission to craft stories completely out of the box. I refuse to believe there aren't enough women of color looking for fresh, hot, DIFFERENT story lines.

I've struggled trying to decide what genre to cater too. I write black and IR erotic romances as Nichelle Gregory and sweet romances under my real name. Those stories were with black characters, but I challenge anyone to read them and lump them in with stereotypical black romances. I want to see black characters in fantasy, sci-fi, paranormal story lines and that's what I write the most. I've worried about my stories being perceived as too white for black readers, not white enough for white readers, yadda yadda yadda. Enough. I have to believe great storytelling will interest readers of any hue.

Ultimately, I want my work to be enjoyed by all readers. I've decided to write what I feel and to create characters anyone can relate to.

Thanks for posting this question, Stacey! :)


message 7: by Stacy-Deanne (new)

Stacy-Deanne Stacy-Deanne (wwwgoodreadscomstacydeanne) You're welcome, Nichelle!

I appreciate you sharing but my advice for you is just to write what's in your heart. DO NOT try to write for any other reason. Write what you love and in that everything else shines through. You gotta stay true to yourself.

Also, speaking of writing in different genres. I write crime and mysteries as you all know and I got absolutely NO love overall from a lot of black readers. Some have been supportive but a lot haven't. Most of my readers are either white or black women who read IR books. It bothered me at first because I'm like, here I am a black author doing something different and writing out the box and a lot of black readers don't appreciate that. Most of them want those ghetto street novels and don't wanna expand their mind. So I just said to heck with it. I stopped trying to please audiences because of their color and just started writing for my fans. I don't care what color or gender they are, if they are my fans that's who I am writing for.

That's why I love the IR writers and readers. They are so supportive. It's people like Danielle who starts these groups that really help us to reach fans. But like you Nichelle, I had this plan to try to break a mold with black audiences. Didn't work. I got shunned from book clubs because I had white characters in my books or because I wrote in a genre that they felt "their audience didn't too much read".

I don't understand it because on one hand blacks complain about not being treated like white authors and then there are black authors who try to write differently or out of the box and they don't want that. They wanna go to the same old stuff. That's when I said, I can't worry about who DOESN'T like what I write or who won't read it. I can only please those who will.

We all gotta remember that.

Best Wishes!


message 8: by Trenice (last edited Nov 17, 2010 05:40PM) (new)

Trenice Wow! To listen to this feedback, you guys encourage all authors who write black romance to just give up there craft, because they will never be successful. That saddens me.


message 9: by Nichelle (new)

Nichelle Gregory (NichelleGregory) | 6 comments Stacey,

I've made up my mind to write what I love. You're right you can't worry about who doesn't like what your doing. You should only focus on who gets your craft. I've got a question for you. Do you create white characters in your stories so your work will cross over with white readers? I usually see a picture of what my characters are going to look like in my head, but I have wondered if that's the key. Maybe that's why IR is so hot right now too. It's not your typical characters and it has the appeal of both races within the story.

Trenice,

It is sad, but I don't think we should give up on positive, sexy black romances. There are many black authors writing successful black romances, but like someone said they're with a big pub getting the support and exposure needed to make it. I know I want to read romances with black characters. I'm always on the lookout for authors writing the types of stories I like to read. ;-)


message 10: by Trenice (new)

Trenice Nichelle,

I haven't given up on black romance writers and never will. It just baffles me that people will clump others into a certain pile, without giving each individual separate consideration.
Although new to writing, my titles covers the rambunctious ways of Afro-men while, at the same time, showing how they interact with the general public. (Their two sides, per say.)
White men play basket, football, curse, cheat on their women, etc. Why is it labeled "ghetto" or "taboo", if a black man does it?
I just think a lot of good authors, with great stories, are buried in that "label pile" with noway of being unearthed.

Pardon grammar errors.


message 11: by Arch , Mod (new)

Arch  | 6523 comments Mod
Trenice,

I am sorry that you have read my replies and thought that I was saying that authors who write black romance should give up writing black stories, because I have never said that.

As a writer, I will never tell another writer to give up what they write. And as a reader and black woman, I don't have to read black romance stories, because I am a black woman.

I would never put white above black, because no race is better than the next. I know what I like reading and a lot of black stories don't fit my reading choice.

I love black woman/white man stories. This is what I write. This is what I rather read than any male/female race combination.

I don't read erotic stories no matter what race the characters are. I don't even like reading detailed sex in non erotic books.

I don't write for a certain audience. My characters are human and that's what I want my readers to know and see, when they read my stories. I write my characters colorless.

I know that in every race, you will find a person that fits ________ shoes, but in black stories rather it's a book or movies, must black characters act like _________, because this is how blacks are said to be?

I'm a firm believer that a writer should always write for themselves and not for fans or for their fans. If a writer want a fan, then they need to look in the mirror and find their number one fan in that mirror.

A black romance writer shouldn't give up writing their story. We have so many black readers in this world that loves reading black romance books. If black romance authors stop writing black romance books, where are those black people going to get their black romance stories from?


message 12: by Trenice (new)

Trenice Now, I understand each of your points more clearly. Thanks for addressing my concern. I hope we can debate another topic in the near future. ;D


message 13: by Stacy-Deanne (new)

Stacy-Deanne Stacy-Deanne (wwwgoodreadscomstacydeanne) Nichelle,

No I've always written white characters. In fact I tried to write books with black characters because I thought I should but then remembered I wasn't being true to myself. I write white characters mainly because I've always related more to white people. So it comes naturally. I would never write something just to write it. I only write what I want and to enjoy it. I feel like my race has nothing to do with my characters and that's the main problem with the literary world now. I've always thought like this. In fact I know black writers who write the same type of books I do but people don't know they are writers of color. For years authors hid their race and gender because they were afraid folks would look at them instead of their characters.

I feel like this, MY color has nothing to do with anything I write. Black people don't have to write about blacks and whites don't have to write about whites. The author's color shouldn't matter at all. The story is important and as long as the author is true to themselves, that's the only thing they can be.

Best Wishes!


message 14: by Trenice (new)

Trenice Stacey, you said that beautifully ;D


message 15: by Stacy-Deanne (last edited Nov 17, 2010 08:03PM) (new)

Stacy-Deanne Stacy-Deanne (wwwgoodreadscomstacydeanne) Let me say that one of the main reasons I don't like most black romances is because the blacks in the book are never like I am. They might be black in race but I can't relate to them. The characters in black romance should be more colorful and not stereotype carbon copies of stuff we've seen a million times. Every person of color isn't the same but yet, even black authors write "us" in the same stereotype. Not all but a lot.

For instance does every black heroine in black romance have to have an attitude and bash men? Does she always have to be so into herself and her career that she can't fall in love? Now I love independent women, I'm one but if you got a character like this why is she in a romance? Why write a heroine so against men if it's a love story?

Does the black guy always have to be a player that she needs to straighten out? Why can't he be a decent brother or someone that doesn't have a bunch of women or portrayed as some dog?

Does the black woman always have to be alone because she "can't find a good black man"? Does she always have to bitch and whine to her girlfriends about all the "no good" men? Does she always have to be so hostile to other characters or the love interest in particular?

Does the hero always have to be some smooth talker who only has the desire to get women into bed?

Does the hero and heroine always have to have a booty call FIRST or some quick hookup before they fall for each other?

And the list goes on. I've seen this kind of stuff over and over in black romance. It paints the picture that black women are hard, untouchable, unlovable full of attitude and can't ever get a good man. Then it paints the black man as some shady user who only cares about booty yet the woman is so stupid she falls for him anyway.

I see why black women have the rep that we are so hard to deal with. Because of books and movies that imitate the myth society has put out there. That's the point.

What's so bad is that these are being written by black women and it's putting the same old crap out there that we need to get away from.

For one thing they can stop painting all black females as having attitudes and being so harsh.

Note again, I'm not saying all black romances are like this. I got a friend who writes black romance and her books aren't stereotypical. That's why I love her work! But a lot I've read are just like what I described. The characters are so cliche' I know them in my sleep.

It'll be great if the characters broke from the "mold" but they rarely do. How can we expect white people to not categorize us in a certain manner when we do it to ourselves already?

Best Wishes!


message 16: by Stacy-Deanne (new)

Stacy-Deanne Stacy-Deanne (wwwgoodreadscomstacydeanne) Thanks for chiming in everyone. I appreciate the opinions but I'm checking out of this thread. I feel I've said all I needed to say. Once again, thanks all for the opinions and thoughts.


message 17: by Stacy-Deanne (new)

Stacy-Deanne Stacy-Deanne (wwwgoodreadscomstacydeanne) Thanks, Trenice.


message 18: by Arch , Mod (new)

Arch  | 6523 comments Mod
Should this thread be closed?


message 19: by Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books), Sees Love in All Colors (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) (Gatadelafuente) | 7300 comments Mod
I'd have to third what has been said so far. I used to devour black romances, and I got bored. The characters were always the same, with nothing to distinguish them. They had no quirks and no joie de vivre. I couldn't identify, and I am black! I don't see why every black hero has to be a marriage-avoiding playboy, and every black heroine has to be a beautiful, gorgeous fashionista with a perfect life, or on the other side, they are ghetto caricatures. I would like to read books with real people, and the more the better if they are black, but not cardboard types.


message 20: by Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books), Sees Love in All Colors (last edited Nov 18, 2010 06:08AM) (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) (Gatadelafuente) | 7300 comments Mod
I don't feel this should be closed. I think this has been a positive discussion, and people are saying what they think from different sides.

I absolutely suppport writers of color, but I want there to be quality material out there. It's actually bad for the black writing community that all we can put out is the same old stereotypical stuff. Let's do something different. Lets take black people from all walks of life and in different modes and write about them. Like Nichelle mentioned, I'd love to see more speculative fiction with black characters. That's why I try to buy these books and support these authors. I think we know how hard it is getting past that ceiling and the pervasive attitude (and not just by the bigoted media) that wants to wall black people in and paint them in one view. If you don't believe me, watch BET for an hour. I say that we should work ourselves to break those stereotypes and not be afraid to disagree with that.

One of my favorite authors who writes black romance is Brenda Jackson. I emailed her to thank her for her books, and I asked her why pretty much all of her heroes were players. She didn't respond. I have had to take a time out from her books because I got sick of that same kind of hero. Believe it or not, there are nerdy, virginal, celibate black guys. There are goth black guys, there are techy black guys, there are movie geek black guys. So why do we always see the same kind of black character? The same goes for black female characters. Honestly, I have tried to seek out more black romance, but the stories don't appeal to me. If they publish stories I would read, then I will buy them. That's a very simple equation.


message 21: by Arch , Mod (new)

Arch  | 6523 comments Mod
I have asked if the thread should be closed, because Stacy had started it and was leaving it. The thread is a positive thread.

I was just trying to see if it should be closed or remain open.


message 22: by Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books), Sees Love in All Colors (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) (Gatadelafuente) | 7300 comments Mod
I don't see any reason to close it. Even if SD is done, some other members might want to comment on this. I'm glad she started this thread, because it's an issue I have been weighing personally.


message 23: by Arch , Mod (new)

Arch  | 6523 comments Mod
I agree, some other members might want to comment on it.


message 24: by Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books), Sees Love in All Colors (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) (Gatadelafuente) | 7300 comments Mod
Also, thanks Stacy-Deanne for your support of this group. It means a lot. I am glad we have this place to get together and celebrate IRR.


message 25: by Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books), Sees Love in All Colors (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) (Gatadelafuente) | 7300 comments Mod
Just to be clear, Brenda Jackson responded to my email, but she didn't address my question about her heroes.


message 26: by Arch , Mod (new)

Arch  | 6523 comments Mod
I want to read Beverly Jenkins Historical books. She is the author that writes black historical stories, right?


message 27: by Tina (new)

Tina | 1304 comments Okay people... I am writing an essay here. Don't shoot me!

Here is my theory:

When romance novels were in their nascent period, there was simply no place at the table for black romances. Romances were either historicals (Kathleen Woodiwiss, Rosemary Rogers, etc.) or Harlequins. The contemporary romance as we now know it did not really exist. Sure, Danielle Steele, Sidney Sheldon, Judith Michael etc. were writing romance-like contemp fiction but you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who would define them as current day contemporary romance.

Publishing as owned by the NY Pubs is an insular, conservative industry. They are very slow to change and find it difficult to work on different models of business than the one they been working on for , what, 60 years? Their reaction to the rise of ebooks is a testament to this. No way would an industry that already had a low opinion of romances would even consider that stories about black people in love was something worthwhile. So black romances were already working at an incredible deficit.

When romances really exploded by the 90s, the tone had already been entrenched. There were very clear cut tropes in the novels. In historicals, the hero was a rich man, a peer, a nobleman. The woman was beautiful, young and desirable. Again, no place at the table for a black story there. Yes, we know that there are stories to be told, but even still today, there are very rigid lines within romancelandia. Back then they were practically concrete.

And in mass production of anything, it isn't how the niche audience (black readers) will receive something, it is how well it will cross over to the wider audience (white readers). In a historical novel the sticky wicket is how to position black characters in history? Follow the dots and what do you get?...SLAVERY! This is always the elephant in the room and it was something that nobody would dare to touch. Even though we know the breadth of Af-Am history is much wider than just southern slavery, that is the defining characteristic in many people's minds when it comes to setting black people in a American historical context. Added to that, the vast majority of novels were set in Europe (regencies, Dukes, Lords etc.). Americana wasn't that big of a draw. Conventional wisdom was that there was no market (i.e. white people didn't want to read about black people).

But by now Contemporary novels were now being written. Surely we could get books written in contemporary settings about modern day Af-Amf heroes and heroines? Right? Except most contemps were being written by authors (Nora Roberts, Sandra Brown, Janet Dailey) who had gained named recognition and a devoted fan following from harlequins and Silhouettes. Their fans followed them from Harl/Silhouettes to mass market and made them viable. This is a type of access to readers that black romance writers never had. They never had had the opportunity to gain fans. The one or two black romance novels that had been written for the Harlequin lines reportedly had very small sales but then again they had no promotion either.

It wasn't until the success of Waiting to Exhale that the industry began to pay attention to black woman's romance travails. It was in the wake of that, the the Kimani and Arabesque lines in Harl were made. But even in those lines, the writer had to conform to Harlequin's standards of what their hero/heroine make up was.

But by then romance novels featuring black characters had largely lost it's opportunity to really grow an audience. The black women like myself who had read romances all along were comfortable with the white characters in their context. They fit there. But I know in my case there is a psychological sleight of hand that I employ where I can enjoy an historical romance novel with white characters but I am removed from them. I don't feel like I have to relate to them, I am an observer who enjoys the written word. In many ways it is almost like science fiction. I am always conscious of the fact that this is fantasy. I have no illusions about reality based situations. Whereas if the characters were black, I'd have a closer connection and couldn't disassociate myself enough to enjoy what I'm reading.

But for black women readers who never read romance novels, when they tried to read black romance, especially the Harlequins, in the wake of Waiting to Exhale they found they could not relate. They wanted WTE, redux and instead got the stuff that harlequin produces.

I'd read an article once about black women reading romances and so many of them said the same thing over and over and over again. They simply couldn't relate to those characters they simply didn't feel real. Of course what was the response to this in the industry? Thug and street lit! ARRRGHHHH!

The publishing industry was doing what the movie industry does, it completely ignores the middle ground when it comes to black people. There is a place somewhere between Billionaire players and Street Hustlers that is simply invisible to TPTB.

While there is an audience, and from what I am seeing a healthy one for street lit, it completely bypasses people like myself who would like to read a wide variety of romances that feature ALL KINDS or couples.

At least smaller presses like Genesis is doing something about that. They are producing quality work that is slowly building an audience. But until there is widespread mass market productions by majors presses of black romance novels, then black romance is still very much in it's infancy.


message 28: by Nichelle (new)

Nichelle Gregory (NichelleGregory) | 6 comments Stacey,

Thank you for responding to my question. I truly hope you did not feel I was attacking you or work in any way. That was not my intention at all. I agree my color should not dictate the type of characters I have to write. I've just struggled personally with this..no more!

I'm so tired of the stereotypical black romances too. I won't even read street lit. I'm tired of these types of books being the sole expression given any publicity or promotion in the literary world.

Every scenario you mentioned about typical black characters is exactly what I make different in my work. I guess I was beginning to wonder like you said will it even matter if I there are no readers.

Lady Danielle,

I've read just about all of Brenda Jackson's work too and became burned out with the same thing you said about her work too.

Tina,

You've made excellent points. I've devoured work from all of the authors you mentioned and have always wondered why I can't read those kinds of stories with characters of color and not just black. Thank goodness there are small presses and other pubs willing to publish fresh story lines.

I've enjoyed reading all the responses to this thread. Thanks for listening to mine!

;-)

Nichelle Gregory
aka
Angela Nichelle


message 29: by Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books), Sees Love in All Colors (last edited Nov 18, 2010 08:33AM) (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) (Gatadelafuente) | 7300 comments Mod
Tina, you raised good points.

Please don't shoot me. I read one book by Terry McMillan, and I didn't care for it. It was Mama. My sister (whose taste I respect) read Disappearing Acts, and she didn't like it. I watched Waiting to Exhale and How Stella Got Her Groove back, and those aren't my kind of romance books. I guess I like the 'fantasy'. I didn't like all the real life, angsty, negative aspects in those stories. Also, my family is crazy, but I can't identify with the issues that women in those books faced. So, I guess I am not the target audience for black romance in the publisher's minds.

PS. I don't have to identify all the time with people in the books I read. I like fantasy and the difference from my life when I read. But, my issue with black romance is that I almost never ever identify. And it's ironic since I am black. I identify with white characters in some of my favorite romances more.

Arch, to answer your question, Beverly Jenkins writes very good historicals. She tends to have the rakish hero a bit too much, but she also has a couple of virgin heroes.


message 30: by Arch , Mod (new)

Arch  | 6523 comments Mod
Thanks Danielle for the information about Beverly Jenkins.


message 31: by Tina (new)

Tina | 1304 comments I agree I have no desire to identify with anyone in a book I read. I just want to read a good story. But it is the number one excuse given why people refuse to read (INSERT BOOK TYPE HERE). I have read on other boards how some white readers simply won't read a book that features a black female protagonist because they need to "relate" to the heroine. Of course of these same people consider a vampire/werewolf romance "interracial".

Interestingly enough though, Brenda Jackson is a very, very popular Harlequin author. Whenever I've ever ventured to the Harlequin site, if she has a book out that month, it is sitting atop or near the top of the bestsellers for the month. As you know, Danielle, I am not a Harlquin reader, but they do have their readership and they know their template works for the people who like their stuff. So in that case, Brenda modelling her AA heroes/heroines after the white Hh's really works for her readership.


I do agree there was a sameness to AA romantic, but I don't think that is necessarily the fault of the writers or limited to AA romance. I actually stopped reading romances in the 90s because I thought every single book I read was the same book. i felt this was true throughout the genre. There is a romance template and every author follows it. Some are better at disguising it, some are better at pushing the envelope and some are better and making it feel new, but under it all, there was, i felt, a sameness. So I started reading other genres and got an appreciation of other types of fiction that I never realized existed.

I came back to romance after awhile because it was the first type of book I read and I still hold a fondness for the genre, but I do read it with a much more critical eye, throughout the genre since I've returned.

I read Disappearing Acts by TMac and LOVED IT. I thought it was the superior book to Waiting to Exhale. It is not a "romance novel" romance, but it is really a great relationship novel that unfolds through some great storytelling. If more AA "romance" was more like that I'd read them more. I think the problem is they are trying to shoehorn AA romance into the same box as traditional "white" romances and they simply don't fit.


message 32: by Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books), Sees Love in All Colors (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) (Gatadelafuente) | 7300 comments Mod
Tina, I'm not sure if it's the modeling AA romance after white romance that is the problem for me. I guess it probably works more in Brenda Jackson's favor if she does do that, because she's one of the few I still read. I admit, I liked her older romances better that she published with Arabesque before Harlequin bought them.

Personally, I don't have a problem with the romance template. It's the lack of difference in the characters that can make me bored. I think you can have a formula and have it be successful, so long as you bring it to life in a different way, or the writing gives you so much more along the way.

I can respect getting sick of a genre, so that's why I mix things up. But, I don't think I will ever get sick of romance and give it up. I love it very much. And there is enough out there to offer within the romance genre that I can find plenty of books to get my interest. I like Harlequins because I like the storylines and the more focused on the relationship aspects. When I want something that has a different plot outside of the romance, I read other genres. But all genres can have romance stories within them. That's why I think it's funny that some people turn their nose up at romance (and that is not directed at anyone here), when I read plenty of books that are not romance, and there is a romance therein.


message 33: by Arch , Mod (new)

Arch  | 6523 comments Mod
I don't relate to women that I read about, besides being a woman.

When I write stories. I don't write them for anyone to relate to my characters.

I just love reading and if a catcher catches my attention, I read it. I like certain genre and themes that I like to read about and many black books don't fit in those categories. Many white books don't fit in those categories.

The next story that I read will be a black story. I don't have that many on my tbr pile.

If a book is not a catcher to me, I will not read it or stop reading it.


message 34: by Chaeya (new)

Chaeya | 454 comments Wow, there's not much I can add, other than I agree with what's being said here.

I think I said this a while ago, but as writers we have to pave the way and show people that our novels aren't the typical "street lit" or of the "Tyler Perry Syndrome" that we've been accused of being. I fell off some of the other black writers boards I belonged to because I just got sick of the stereotyping, more from the men than the women. I found the women to be very open-minded and their writing outside of the box, yet the black men writers seem to love to keep that street thing going, or they want to write about Africa. Then they get mad because we don't support them. Sorry, but I don't want to read about Africa or the streets. I studied Africa enough in my youth. Then I get accused of "hating" my race. WTH? I just don't think we need to wave our blackness and all of our stereotypes like a banner in everything we do. Just write a darn story.

I prefer interracials or multi-racials, but if the story is good, I'll read a black romance. I liked Dyanne Davis's vampire series.

Chaeya


message 35: by Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books), Sees Love in All Colors (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) (Gatadelafuente) | 7300 comments Mod
I've said it before, and I am repeating myself here, but I feel that the black community is a huge culprit when it comes to stereotyping black people.

Growing up, you get made fun of if you don't talk or act 'black', as if there is such a thing. I just wish that we would embrace the diversity within our race a little more.


message 36: by Arch , Mod (new)

Arch  | 6523 comments Mod
I will never know what being black is, because in my world it doesn't exist.


message 37: by Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books), Sees Love in All Colors (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) (Gatadelafuente) | 7300 comments Mod
We are all humans. I don't see why that is so hard to accept for some people.


message 38: by CaliGirlRae, Mod Squad (new)

CaliGirlRae (Rae_L) | 2000 comments Mod
Danielle, you may want to check out Brenda Jackson's latest. It's an IR and the hero is marriage minded and very interested in settling down with the heroine. I thought it was refreshing and sweet. Plus it helped that I kept picturing Sam Worthington as the hero (le swoon!) Check it out if you can (I think it's called What A Westmoreland Wants but my brain is fried from work at the moment so forgive me if that's incorrect).

Great dialogue going on here. I couldn't agree more. I got a lot of that 'not black enough' stuff or 'talking white or black' in high school and don't need in my adult life. Good to see some folks who are like minded and trying to change the status quo of that here within their own works. :-)


message 39: by Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books), Sees Love in All Colors (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) (Gatadelafuente) | 7300 comments Mod
That's great news about BJ's latest book. I do have it, so I'll make a note to read it soon. Thanks, Rae!


message 40: by CaliGirlRae, Mod Squad (new)

CaliGirlRae (Rae_L) | 2000 comments Mod
Np! Enjoy the read. :-)


The FountainPenDiva, Old school geek chick and lover of teddy bears (TheFountainPenDiva) | 1200 comments My biggest issue with the AA romance genre comes from having stringent submission guidelines that clearly state that Parker Publishing is looking for positive depictions of black life and love but that for some reason, writers just don't seem to pay attention to that. I would LOVE to publish more quality black romances, but what more than often ends up in my inbox are "Trey'von the thug/rapper/hustler and Myesha the stripper/video vixen/crack head and their baby mama drama". I point out that we have a beautiful black family in the White House, so why are a lot of these new writers still stuck on "thug lit"? Just as I enjoy diversity in mainstream romance and in the I/R genre, I want to see more of it with the AA genre. I want geeks, nerds, professors, rockers,punks, skaters (uh, Terry Kennedy anyone?) Send me THAT and you get fasttracked to the top of the pile!


message 42: by Delaney (new)

Delaney Diamond (Delaney_Diamond) | 463 comments I've found this thread to be very interesting, particularly b/c I don't only write IR romance, I write AA romances too. I have a free read on my website and the h/h are both black. Most of the positive comments I've received about the characters have been about the hero, Maxwell. If anyone is interested in checking it out, here is my website: http://delaneydiamond.com.

It seems that quite a few of the comments above about stereotyping black characters are as a result of reading books classified as urban fiction. While I don't read it myself, obviously there are plenty of people who do b/c they're big sellers.

If we're talking pure romance, we should take urban lit out of the equation. I could be wrong, but I don't think urban lit is considered part of the romance genre, as it's a genre unto itself. Having said that, if we exclude that type of writing from romantic fiction, I'm curious about the comments about other mainstream romance novels. I haven't run into the same problems you all have.

There are so many black writers writing interesting black characters with varied plots, just like white writers do. I've read black heroes that are cowboys, spies, business men, attorneys, a mortician, and artists. I've read black heroines who are models, caterers, business women, store owners, spies, and actresses.

What I have noted is that there aren't many AA romance novels being e-published unless they are erotic romances, and I hope that changes. I don't write erotic romance, and I plan to publish my AA romances through e-channels.

I do have a few questions to pose to the group. As an author and someone who writes AA, I'd like to know what you view as the differences you state you noted in black romances, because I don't see the differences. If I never saw the cover or read the physical description, they could just as easily be white, Asian, or have some other racial/ethnic origins.

QUESTIONS:
Why is it that black heroines are described as angry and unapproachable? Yet white heroines exhibiting the same behavior are called feisty and headstrong?

Why is it that black heroes are described as players? Yet white heroes exhibiting the same behavior are called rogues, rakes, and playboys?

As far as I'm concerned, it's all semantics. Maybe we should start calling black heroines feisty and black heroes rakes and eliminate the negative connotation of current descriptions.


message 43: by Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books), Sees Love in All Colors (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) (Gatadelafuente) | 7300 comments Mod
Delaney, I can only speak for myself.

I don't like rakish heroes, typically, regardless of color. In my experience reading AA romances, most of the heroes tend to be rakish. Now I admit, I haven't read many AA romances in the past few years, but I used to buy all of them several years ago. I will stand by what I said.

I didn't have that issue with the heroine that you are asking about. My issue is I'd like to see more heroines who are not in the gorgeous, well-dressed, perfect mode. I'd like to see them with personality quirks and interesting habits and hobbies. If you can recommend some aa books with nerdy heroines, I'd love to read those. How about a heroine who is a tomboy who stays that way? I've seen a few with a plain jane who gets a makeover, but that's as close as I've come. I also stand by my experience in reading AA romances with my comments.

My personal opinion is that Kimani seems to overcompensate and go to the uberglamorous end of the spectrum with its heroines. That is one area where I do have trouble relating. I don't fit either the 'Sex and the City' mode or the Ghettofabulous mode.

As for the storylines being similar to white romance, I think that the Kimani books are a small subset of a few types of Harlequin romances. The total variety is what is lacking, and that was my point. With Harlequin, you can choose what stories you want to read based on the lines. I don't see that option within Kimani. If I am wrong, let me know.

I too have written AA romance stories, and I will continue to do so. I even tried to get one published through Arabseque, but I was rejected. I think my characters are probably too quirky to be successful in those lines.


message 44: by Arch , Mod (new)

Arch  | 6523 comments Mod
Hi Delaney, thanks for the link to your story. I will check it out.

As for your questions, let me start with the hero first.

To me a playboy and player are the same thing. Rogue and Rake will fall in that category too.

My character a black woman - Sanjar is called Feisty by the white hero - Cop, because of how she can get upset with him within seconds. That's his nickname for her. He likes getting to her.

I have been called Feisty, it's not because I'm unapproachable or even angry. To me they don't mean the same.

For example in the movie Something New. I wouldn't say that the heroine was being feisty in the way that she treated the hero in the beginning. She was being unapproachable.

I don't watch the Real Housewives of Atlanta. I see a few episodes, when they first came on. A lot of heorines in black romance books and movies at like Sheree. They don't want to be with a man, unless he has money. Their attitudes are too high above their head.

Unless, I have missed something in the non black books that I have read - I haven't seen a white woman act like that. Not even in Harlequin books, where the men are the rich ones. Most of the time, the white woman is poor or even if she does have a little money, she's not money hungry.

In non Harlequin books, the white, other race woman didn't display "I'm too good" attitude.

Maybe, I haven't read the books that they are in. I can only speak for the books that I have read.


message 45: by Delaney (last edited Nov 19, 2010 07:54AM) (new)

Delaney Diamond (Delaney_Diamond) | 463 comments Danielle, I can't recommend any AA books with nerdy heroines, but I can recommend some that aren't uberglamorous.

Melanie Schuster's book , A Case for Romance is about a teacher who's raising her nephews. At First Touch (I love this one!) by Tamara Sneed is about an actress giving hell to the hero, who happens to be the mortician in a small town. Whisper My Name by Maureen Smith may be closer to what you're looking for, but it's been awhile since I read it. The heroine wears glasses and she's kinda geeky. She studies spiders. I remember the book was a page turner for me. Maureen Smith has not disappointed me yet. Her latest release is Recipe for Temptation and I'm looking forward to reading it. Angie Daniels wrote A Player's Proposal, which is about a mechanic who shuns his family's money. The heroine is a former model who opens a boutique in the town where he resides (they are also former lovers). She can't afford to fix her car, so he proposes that she work off the repairs by filling in as an admin at his shop. It's really quite good and one of my favorite novels (still on my shelf). Don't be turned off by the title. He's really not a player. It's the heroine's perception of him.

You'll be happy to know that none of these books have rakish heroes that you don't like. If I think of anymore I'll pass them on to you.


message 46: by Delaney (new)

Delaney Diamond (Delaney_Diamond) | 463 comments Arch, can you name a couple of books you've read that are like that where the heroine is "money hungry" or acts like she's "too good"? I haven't run across any like that.


message 47: by Arch , Mod (new)

Arch  | 6523 comments Mod
No, Delaney, I can't name the books. I've read so many books in my life. Many of the books that I have read is not listed on my bookshelves, because I don't remember half of their name or who they are by.

Because of the way a lot of black heroines and heroes act in books is the reason why I don't care to read black stories.


message 48: by Delaney (new)

Delaney Diamond (Delaney_Diamond) | 463 comments Danielle, here's another one I just pulled from my bookshelf that I enjoyed: His Perfect Match by Elaine Overton. It has a secret baby plot, which is unusual for a Kimani romance. The heroine is not well off and is raising her son with the help of an aunt. She comes back into the hero's life when their son needs a kidney.


message 49: by Delaney (new)

Delaney Diamond (Delaney_Diamond) | 463 comments No worries, Arch. I was just curious b/c I've honestly never run across an AA romance where the black heroine behaved like that.


message 50: by Tina (new)

Tina | 1304 comments @Delaney-
Thank you, thank you thank you for chiming in! I agree with you about urban lit. The problem is that it does get lumped in with romance in bookstores, in libraries, in online presences like Amazon or B&N, so it is very difficult to parse out good 'romance' from amongst the urban lit.

I don't know about anyone else, but for me it can be disheartening and overwhelming to go into a bookstore and try to find an AA romance (Or even just an AA relationship fiction) only to find a) they are not shelved alongside the "regular" romances and b) if you go to the 'African American' fiction shelves you are inundated with Urban lit.

This is probably why I have drifted more to IR romances because they fulfill my need to read about an AA heroine, but they also tend to be marketed more clearly.

In regards your questions, I don't see a difference between the black heroes/heroines vs. their white counterparts in the qualities they are given in straight romance novels. As I mentioned in one of my posts above, I believe there are rules in writing romances that all writers, if they want to get pubbed by a major house, must follow. So in that I see no qualitative difference and I don't view them differently.

And if there is one descriptive quality that will have me shoving a book back onto the shelf in no time flat it is 'feisty.' Can't. Stand. It! In my experience if a heroine is described as feisty on the back matter, then usually inside the covers she's an annoying harpy.

I do think, though, --- and this is just what I've observed in my reading experience --- black women writers tend to err on the side of the 'strong black woman' trope. It is almost as if there is a distaste in making the heroine show any vulnerabilities. This is especially true in some IR titles I've read. After reading the book where the hero all but does handstands to get the woman to notice him and she's standoffish or doesn't reciprocate, I am always left with the feeling of what the heck does he even see in her?

But anyway, thank you for the title suggestions. And please provide more. I am always on the lookout for good writing and great romantic fiction.


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