How to Fail at Flirting will hit shelves and e-readers in a couple months, and I've turned to working on my second book. More information about it is coming soon, but I just finished a tough round of revisions, a round of editing and breaking apart the book and putting it back together where I wasn't sure it was good anymore. I got in my head, and I questioned if I was good enough to tell the story.
It was fortuitous that as I reached the last few pages, thinking, "yeah, maybe I do have what it takes," that the song that inspired me in the first place started playing. "It's Your Life" by Francesca Battistelli was an unlikely inspiration for me. I don't know anything about the artist and I rarely listen to Christian or country music, but I was driving home night after a long day at work and I heard it. I listened, and I listened again, and I thought about passions and drive, about choices, and sense of self, and this book began to form in my mind.
The line in the song that struck me then and strikes me now is, "Are you who you always said you would be?" When I started writing, I planned to be a writer who penned beautiful words and had great ideas. I hoped to be popular and my books highly praised. I didn't think about *who* I would be as a writer though. I didn't think about how I'd need to be resilient and patient, or how I'd need to hone my skills of quieting that inner critic, even when her voice is the only think I can hear inside my head. So, when I heard the song at the end of my revisions, I had an overwhelming sense of relief. I should have known I could do it and maybe next time, I'll just play this song when I start revisions.
I don't know if this will make sense to anyone else, but I'll be listening to the song a few more times and reminding myself I'm a good writer. What are you reminding yourself?
"It's your life--what you gonna do? // The world is watching you // Every day the choices you make // Say what you are and who your heart beats for."
In this month's VIP newsletter, I shared many book recommendations based on what I'm reading and the theme of travel. Please see below for links and more information. For books in non-US locations, I focused on the UK this month in conjunction with the UK cover reveal for How To Fail At Flirting. What are your favorite romance novels that take place outside of the US? Drop them in the comments!
How to Fail at Flirting is out December 1 in the US and UK and available for pre-order. In the meantime, enjoy some of these reads!
What I'm Reading
Miracles and Menorahs by Stacey Agdern
The author was kind enough to gift me an advance copy of this delightful book that is out October 6. An unlikely pair are thrust together because of a Hanukkah Festival. I love the voice and character development in this novel! Stacey Agdern is a treasure. Do yourself a favor and pre-order.
Simmer Down by Sarah Smith
IndieBound | Amazon
Food trucks AND enemies to lovers? I'll read anything Smith writes because I love her voice and the way she captures chemistry, and this book has everything I need! This one is out October 13.
Well Played by Jen DeLuca
IndieBound | Amazon
It's time to go back to the Renaissance Fair! Stacey is still living the wench life but looking for something that might be missing. She finds that in a long distance text relationship that turns out to not be what she expected. This book is out tomorrow and is delightful. The characters pop off the page and you'll get to see all your favorites from Well Met. Order now!
Hex, Love, & Rock and Roll by Kat Turner
IndieBound | Amazon
Sexy witches? Yes please!! Kat Turner's debut is whimsical and funny with a story that keeps you turning pages and maybe fanning yoursel a little!
Love All Year: A Holiday Anthology
I've been so looking forward to this anthology that comes out tomorrow. Love All Year is an anthology of holiday romances from religions, ethnicities, and cultures around the world. It includes romances set during Sukkot, Yule, Purim, Juneteenth, Eid-al-Adha, Qixi, and Rosh Hashanah.Contributors include ElizabethKahn, Stacey Agdern, Hallie Alexander, Savannah J. Frierson, Felicia Grossman, Farah Heron, Celestine Martin, & Ekaterine Xia
UK-Based Romances I've Recently Read & Re-Read
Novels from Some of My Favorite Ex-Pats
August in the Williams house started out with my returning to my campus and my son returning to day care. Life felt a little bit normal for a couple weeks until we were exposed to someone who tested positive and went back into quarantine for 14 days. That on top of everything else going on has kept me up at night, but an upside to that has been lots of time to read, so I thought I'd give you a roundup of some recent reads that have distracted me and made me smile!
Here to Stay by Adriana Herrera
IndieBound (Audio) | Amazon
My heart! Found family, a heroine to root for, a hero to do...anything for. This novel had me turning pages with sweet anticipation and the pay off was worth it.
The First Rule of Hookups by Nina Crespo (Audiobook)
IndieBound | Amazon
This book....whew! It was fun and sexy. I listened to the audiobook during my commute and the time flew by. Be warned, you may need to up your A/C!
Something To Talk About by Meryl Wilsner (Audiobook)
IndieBound | Amazon
So much yearning! I've had this book since May but couldn't focus well on my paper copies, so I started the audiobook and flew through. This novel is charming and pointed and a sloooooooow burn.
Love Delayed in Dublin by Moni Boyce
IndieBound | Amazon
Second chance romance after a magical night together? Escape to Ireland? Yes, please! This book had my heart!
'Meet Me In Paradise by Libby Hubscher
IndieBound | Amazon
This book isn't out until spring, but pre-order and you won't regret it. Sisters, personal growth, a vacation in paradise, a lovely romance...I ugly cried at laughed out loud at this perfect women's fiction read.
Up Next On My TBR
I convinced my friends to join me on Instagram this fall to share their flirting fails as we get close to the release of How to Fail at Flirting on December 1 and all these incredible 2020 releases.
Check out my upcoming guests and their 2020 books!
When I was a senior in high school, my AP English teacher asked us to write the top twenty things we’d learned at that point. I’ve repeated that activity on my birthday for the last twenty years. This year, I thought I’d share a few items from my list of things I’ve learned at 38 along with recent and not so recent reads that take me back to the lesson.
Only one person is in charge of my happiness and I should listen to her because she's smart.
Well-Behaved Indian Women by Saumya Dave
"From a compelling new voice in women's fiction comes a mother-daughter story about three generations of women who struggle to define themselves as they pursue their dreams."
Change means movement. Movement means friction.
The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa
"A wedding planner left at the altar? Yeah, the irony isn't lost on Carolina Santos, either. But despite that embarrassing blip from her past, Lina's offered an opportunity that could change her life. There's just one hitch...she has to collaborate with the best (make that worst) man from her own failed nuptials."
Giving up control doesn't mean I am giving up.
Hearts on Hold by Charish Reid
"Professor Victoria Reese knows an uphill battle when she sees one. Convincing her narrow-minded colleagues at the elite Pembroke University to back a partnership with the local library is a fight she saw coming and already has a plan for. What she didn’t see coming? The wildly hot librarian who makes it clear books aren’t the only thing he’d like to handle."
Family are those people who know the worst about me and still expect the best from me.
Island Affairs by Priscilla Oliveras
"USA Today bestselling author Priscilla Oliveras launches a new romantic comedy series set in Key West, Florida and filled with humor, Latinx culture, and fun family dynamics perfect for summer beach reading…"
Parenting is one part research, one part intuition and one part luck, all of it sprinkled with anxiety and why-is-this-sticky?
Hello Lovelies by Hayley DeRoche
When a former political communications strategist and currently a stay-at-home mom wins an all-expenses paid cruise vacation with her idol, a superstar mommy blogger, she can’t wait to connect with other moms IRL, but the cruise is not the Instagram-worthy getaway Ruthie had in mind.
It’s okay to acknowledge that I am really good at what I do.
Queen Move by Kennedy Ryan
"Tell me it's wrong. Tell me the boy who always felt like mine is now the man I can’t have.
When we find each other again, everything stands in our way--secrets, lies, promises.
But we didn't come this far to give up now. And I know just the move to make if I want to make him mine."
What have been the biggest lessons you've learned up to this point? Do any books take you back to it? Share them in the comments!
Note: All these authors are Black or multiracial to the best of my knowledge, but not all write Black Romance where the people in the relationship are both/all Black. Language matters and I need to be more conscientious of being clear, because Black Romance is so often marginalized to begin with and there is a dearth of Black love stories in traditional publishing.
Books featuring Black love on the cover are often ignored and implicit (sometimes explicit) bias is always at play. If that fits you--if interracial stories like mine feel "safer" than Black love, if you’d pick up an illustrated book cover featuring a Black person but not one with an actual photo—consider why and sit with the answer. This isn't a hot take. Black authors have been saying this for decades.
About 60 authors were mentioned in a Twitter chat on June 3 and I compiled the list here with links as promised. I encourage you to support Black and multiracial authors but also to read Black Romance. (Read books where the MCs are both/all Indigenous, Latinx, Asian or other People of Color, too, while you're at it). Read, review, and recommend the books like you do others…and if you don’t, ask yourself why. The authors below are with large and small presses, are indie published, or a combination of both. You'll find Black love and interracial couples and books from across multiple sub-genres. Some you’ll like, some will become instant favorites, some you might not enjoy, and others you may critique, but Black Romance and Black and multiracial authors who write romance have to be seen and considered before any of that can happen.
If buying, and if possible, consider ordering from a Black-owned bookstore.
More lists on Goodreads:
Black Love | Historical Romance by Black Authors | Contemporary Romance by Black Authors | M/M Romance by Black Authors | YA Romance by Black Authors | African American Romance | Romance with Queer Black MCs
These are not exhaustive lists. Who else should we be reading? Drop recommendations in the comments!
Every Friday, AllTheKissing hosts #FridayKiss on social media. They share a theme, and writers can post a few lines of to match the theme. Can I tell you? I L-O-V-E this prompt game. Finding and creating the prompts, seeing other people's words, and it all being in the realm of love...it's always a reset button for me, no matter how hard the week has been and there have been some hard weeks.
Unsure if you'll be a fan of Denise Williams books? Here a few of my favorite twitter prompt posts!
Side Characters I Love
How To Fail At Flirting
How To Fail At Flirting is out December 1, 2020 but those characters have made a few appearances from a couple scenes that made it to the book, and a couple that ended up on the editing floor. Pre-Order available now!
Who among us isn't looking for another puzzle? Check out the embedded puzzle below or visit https://jigex.com/4anM. To start this puzzle featuring the May-December Berkley Romance covers! By clicking on the image icon, you can preview the finished puzzle and clicking the grid when you begin allows you to adjust the number of pieces. Enjoy!
I loved joining Cass and Taj at Fat Like Me talking about body representation, pandemic resilience, the 1991 board game, Dream Phone, intersectionality, books, reading, romance, and love.
Romance writers are proud of many things related to our craft: character development, humor, snappy dialogue, and steamy love scenes. There's something else, though. We're proud of our GIF game! Meet some up and coming authors' romance novels as described by the authors in GIFs. The authors from vol. 1 of The Gif of a Happily Ever After nominated these authors whose books we can't wait to see in print.
Hot Copy by Ruby Barrett
Rosie Danan, author of The Roommate (available 9/15/20), suggested Ruby. Learn more about Ruby here.
Rules of Engagement by Natalie Caña
Denise Williams-Klotz, author of How To Fail At Flirting (available 12/1/20), suggested Natalie. Learn more about Natalie here.
Standing But Not Operating by Jenny Howe
Suzanne Park, author of Loathe At First Sight, suggested Jenny's work. Learn more about Jenny here.
To Be Your Last by Rae Kennedy (Avail. 6/26)
Allison Ashley, author of Perfect Distraction, suggested Rae. Learn more about Rae here.
Storysinger by Lindsay Landgraf Hess
Katie Golding, author of Fearless (available 7/28/20), suggested Lindsay. Learn more about Lindsay here.
Sweet Victory by Tara Martin
Janet Walden-West, author of Salt + Stilettos (available 4/21/20), suggested Tara. Learn more about Tara here.
Denise reads romance novels, writes research papers, can be found humming "Baby Shark" long after her toddler has gone to bed, and loves ruining her character's lives but then giving them happily ever afters. She is a member of Romance Writers of America® and a 2019 Golden Heart® Finalist, and her debut novel HOW TO FAIL AT FLIRTING will be out fall 2020 from Berkley.