Read An Ebook Week & Me (2015)

Sure I’m late out of the gate… but better to be late than to be THE late, as my dear mother often says!

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Visit me at www.smashwords.com/profile/view/nailah for details!

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2014 & Me

I wrote this bog post on December 31st, 2014. I’ve hesitated to share it until now…. I’m not completely sure why…. I think it has something to do with learning to go with the flow… I know it’s because this piece is personal… moreso than the others… and sometimes I hesitate to invite the whole world to comment on my business (even when I anticipate all commentary will be positive!).

But today I feel the urge… almost need… to share so that I can move on with new aspects of my journey as I forward into 2015. So far the year has been a bittersweet bag of sweets… I’ve lost a loved & treasured family member or friend for each week of the year so far… and yet EVERY day I’m shown the wonder of this great learning experience we call life… anyhow… enough of that! Read on! I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments below…  <3 :-)

It’s been a while since I last posted here. I’d love to be able to say that for the last few months I’ve been busy writing my latest novella. But I can’t truthfully. Rather I’ve been slogging away at teachers’ reports, letters to parents and editing jobs for various clients. I guess the day job has intruded on my vocation.

It’s been a trying twelve months financially, and like many artists who dream of making a living from their art, I’ve had to focus so much on survival (and by that I mean earning enough to pay the bills AND buy food!) that I’ve neglected a fundamental part of myself – the creative writer. Despite the angst of caring for sick family members; balancing an ever-growing cost of living on the fulcrum of a (seemingly ever-) diminishing income, and shouldering the burden of the unexpected – major home and car repairs – I’ve managed to make it through 2014 with a smile on my face! And with the overstanding that 2014 has been a GREAT year.

How? Well, somehow, during the last 12 months, I learned to go with the flow; to plunge into the whirlpool of fear and the unknown (fear of the unknown) even when I didn’t particularly like the look of those raging rapids. And each time I felt swept away by forces beyond my control, I learned to relax, to accept, to submit. And each time I realised three things: 1) that I am far stronger mentally, emotionally and spiritually than I ever thought, 2) that there is always…. ALWAYS somebody worse off than I am; always someone with whom to share what little I’ve got and 3) that Bob is right – every little thing IS gonna be alright! Always. All ways.

In 2014, I have watched my life change in ways I would have thought unimaginable two decades ago when I was earning “good” money, enjoying privilege and prestige as a celebrated young writer in Barbados. Today, I can say “Two outta three ain’t bad.” Since I enjoy the latter two – although, obviously, I’m not as young as I used to be; the former? Not so much!

This is the year in which I redefined ‘normal’ and ‘way of life’; the year that forced me to relearn how to separate needs from wants. Like many Barbadians (and Caribbean people and Americans and Europeans and…) I’ve been feeling the economic pinch (Like a centipede bite pun muh pooch! – And yes, I happen to know what that feels like!). I’m literally working to pay bills and have had to reprogramme my thinking because I KNOW this cannot be all there is to my life. Unless, of course, The Matrix is more than a movie.

So I now view this particularly challenging stretch of my life journey as an initiation. Once I pass this test, great rewards lie ahead…. By society’s standards I may be poor and growing poorer by the day (although my “financial advisor” calls me “asset rich and cash poor”.); by my own standards I am one of the richest women I know. These days, I find myself no longer attached to things (I have let go of and given away much in the last year!) as I find society’s definitions of success no longer coincide with my own. I find now that I’d rather collect experiences than material possessions.

2014 taught me to adapt… so while I can no longer afford lavish three-course dinners at fancy restaurants, I can afford to invite friends over for a fish fry/barbecue/bring your own snacks lime; while I can no longer afford to buy large quantities of fresh fruit and veg from the supermarkets, I can afford to buy direct from the importer (sometimes saving as much as 50%!) and I can certainly afford to grow my own (My daughter and I created a lovely garden and grew tomatoes, peppers and eggplant); while I can no longer afford to buy international magazines (because spending $100/month for my four fave mags no longer fits into my list of needs) I can afford to spend time on-line reading the e versions of the magazines. While I refuse to even consider being able to afford to pay $20 for my favourite brand of marmalade, I can afford to buy $5 worth of oranges and make my own bread spread. (Hey! Life gives me oranges, I make marmalade!)

When medical expenses, home repair expenses and car expenses got the better of my already weak and ailing budget; I learned to make do with what I had (with much help from family and friends!) and managed to convince my 11-year-old daughter that we were (and still are) embarking on a great adventure.

And then there’s my dream…. I still dream of being a best-selling author (yes, I still hold on to a dream sparked some 40 years ago!) but in 2014 I have had to start asking myself a terrifying (to me!) question: “What if? What if you never make it?” and I’ve had to answer myself, with an isn’t-that-answer-obvious shrug: I will keep writing. That’s what writers do.

So why do I deem 2014 a great year?

Because, in the words of ole time Bajans: ‘What don’t kill does fatten!”. In my case, what didn’t kill me served to strengthen me – mentally, emotionally, spiritually! I know that 2014 prepared me for whatever 2015 brings because 2014 taught me how to go with that flow… no matter what!

What about you? What did 2014 teach you? And how will you use that newfound knowledge in 2015?

Nailah is founder of Caribbean Passion, the Caribbean’s premier Romance series. She is the author of the Romance novellas To Star, With Love, Someone To Watch Over Me, Second Time Around, Cruising to Love and her latest (the Rihanna-inspired!), Fantasy Fulfilled. She is also the author of the YA novellas Colourblind, available on Amazon and Smashwords, and Pick of the Crop.  She is currently working on the sequel to her first action/thriller novella To Protect & Serve.

To read more please visit: www.smashwords.com/profile/view/nailah

Posted in balancing finances, financial advice, finding mental strength, finding the flow, Finding time to write, going with the flow, how to keep writing, life's an adventure, orange marmalade, redefining normal, redefining way of life, soothing the economic pinch, when life gives you oranges, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Read An Ebook Week & Me

Lady

I’m participating in Smashwords’ Read An Ebook Week promotion for the first time… already, books are flying off the virtual shelf! It’s amazing!

So I’ve just popped in here to let you know that for one week only The Knight Family Trilogy: To Star, With Love, Someone To Watch Over Me and Fantasy Fulfilled will be available at a “specially reduced price”.

Click on this link: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/nailah to find out more.

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Fantasy Fulfilled & Me

Image

My latest baby….

A “funny” thing happened on the way to my completing my latest Romance novella, Fantasy Fulfilled.

I actually began penning it 10 years ago. In those days, its working title was Nelson’s Turn.

But before I go on, let me give you a little background…. In 2001 I wrote a book called To Star, With Love. It was the first in the Caribbean Passion line and told the story of how Randall Knight, widowed father of two rather precocious children (Nelson and Miranda), met the love of his life, Star McKenzie, who also happened to be Miranda’s new teacher.

I enjoyed interacting with those characters so much that I decided that I’d write Romances for Miranda and Nelson too.

Miranda’s story came easily and that tale, Someone To Watch Over Me, which appeared in print in 2002, is by far the most popular of my books to this point.

Nelson’s story, which I started in 2003, was another matter. I just couldn’t seem to create a woman that Nelson wanted to spend the rest of his life with and so, after a few false starts, I decided to put the book aside.

Three years later, in 2006, one of our local newspapers carried a front page photo of our Barbados-born international singing sensation Rihanna. This was shortly after she’d earned international attention with her first album Music of the Sun. According to the pic’s caption story, Rihanna had flown home for a friend’s wedding.

“I’d like to fall in love with someone like her,” Nelson whispered in my ear…..  I loved the idea. My imagination was sparked and as the story and characters developed, I found myself having a great time getting to know Nelson Knight and Brianna Johnston.

So what’s “funny” about all this? Well, in my original draft Brianna was coming out of an abusive relationship with her lover. And then the Chris Brown incident occurred and I felt immensely uncomfortable portraying that relationship in my book so I scrapped that draft.

Next: in my original draft, Brianna returns to Barbados (where the story is set) to perform in her first homecoming concert. And then in August 2011, Rihanna returned and gave a fantastic performance at Kensington Oval a stone’s throw from where she grew up. (Read Rihanna & Me to learn more about that) So I scrapped that part of the plot too.

There were a few other changes that had to be made so that I could remain in my comfort zone as a writer of fiction. Though I knew Nelson and Brianna would eventually get together, Fantasy Fulfilled started to feel more like “Prophecy Fulfilled” and I was distinctly uncomfy with that. I put the book away and focussed on other writing ventures.

Since then I’ve written and published Second Time Around, Cruising To Love, Colourblind and To Protect & Serve.

Last year, Nelson made it clear to me that he’d been waiting long enough and that, since his patience was worn as thin as my 4-year-old nephew’s sneakers at the end of the school year, it was time for me to “hook him up”. (All of my characters talk to me. That’s perfectly normal, isn’t it? Isn’t it?)

This time, the story was ready to be told. Somewhere along the line, Nelson’s Turn became Fulfill Your Fantasy and that morphed into Fantasy Fulfilled.

I am very excited about sharing this story. This is the most fun I’ve had writing a Caribbean Passion novella. There were times when I laughed out loud as I wrote and other times that the scenes seemed so real to me that I was actually there!

I’m trusting that my love and enjoyment of the characters, the plot, the love scenes, that final scene (!) will be conveyed to you as you read.

I trust that you will love and enjoy them as much as I do.

I trust you’ll let me know in the fullness of time.

Nailah is founder of Caribbean Passion, the Caribbean’s premier Romance series. She is the author of the Romance novellas To Star, With Love, Someone To Watch Over Me, Second Time Around, and Cruising to Love. She is also the author of the YA novellas Colourblind, available on Amazon and Smashwords, and Pick of the Crop. Her latest novella To Protect & Serve, first in the Morgan Blades action-drama series, is also available via Smashwords.

To read more please visit: www.smashwords.com/profile/view/nailah

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Suriname & Me (or What I Did this Summer)

Last month I was blessed with the opportunity to visit Suriname. I was honoured to represent Barbados as a writer at CARIFESTA XI.

CARIFESTA is the premier festival of Caribbean arts and culture. Held every two (or so!) years, this festival is a time for artists of all kinds – visual, literary, dance, theatre, culinary – to showcase their talents and to represent the unique (yet so similar!) cultures of the islands and territories of the Caribbean.

It’s a wonderful opportunity for people to meet and share experiences. I made many wonderful and spirit filled friends from Suriname and all over the Caribbean region during the week-long event.

Following are some of my favourite snapshots (blurred ones and all!) from the trip:

My reason for being in Suriname

My reason for being in Suriname

The Barbados Booth at CARIFESTA XI Book Fair.

The Barbados Booth at CARIFESTA XI Book Fair.

Part of the Barbados contingent to CARIFESTA XI on route to the Opening Ceremony

Part of the Barbados contingent to CARIFESTA XI on route to the Opening Ceremony

Spoke about my experience in publishing, specifically epublishing. Loved it and, judging from response afterwards, so did participants.

Spoke about my experience in publishing, specifically epublishing. Loved it and, judging from response afterwards, so did participants.

One of my new friends.... the engaging Sheila Payne from Curacao.

One of my new friends…. the engaging Sheila Payne from Curacao.

Felt Jah-blessed to encounter Rastafari one night in the beautiful Palm Gardens.

Felt Jah-blessed to encounter Rastafari one night in the beautiful Palm Gardens.

This is a statue of "The Mother and her Five Children". The five children are the five cultures of Suriname: Creole, East Indian, Chinese, Javanese and Native American... The mother, of course, is Suriname. She was "dressed up" especially for CARIFESTA.

This is a statue of “The Mother and her Five Children”. The five children are the five cultures of Suriname: Creole, East Indian, Chinese, Javanese and Native American… The mother, of course, is Suriname. She was “dressed up” especially for CARIFESTA.

This was the view from my room at Eco Resort Inn. That's the Suriname River in the background.

This was the view from my room at Eco Resort Inn. That’s the Suriname River in the background.

That's me doing my best frog impersonation.... lol

That’s me doing my best frog impersonation…. lol

I took this picture at dusk as we returned by bus from the Maroon village of Moengo to Paramaribo. What does it look like to you?

I took this picture at dusk as we returned by bus from the Maroon village of Moengo to Paramaribo. What does it look like to you?

The final Parbo in Parbo!

The final Parbo in Parbo!

Taken at dusk during the Closing Ceremony for CARIFESTA XI. It seemed to bid a dramatic farewell...

Taken at dusk during the Closing Ceremony for CARIFESTA XI. It seemed to bid a dramatic farewell…

If you’ve enjoyed these and would like to see more, join me on Facebook. http://facebook.com/nailah.imoja

Nailah is founder of Caribbean Passion, the Caribbean’s premier Romance series. She is the author of the Romance novellas To Star, With Love, Someone To Watch Over Me, Second Time Around, Cruising to Love and the soon-to-be-released Fantasy Fulfilled. She is also the author of the YA novellas Colourblind, available on Amazon and Smashwords, and Pick of the Crop. Her latest novella is To Protect & Serve.

To read more please visit: http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/nailah

Posted in Bajan Literary Arts, CARIFESTA, CARIFESTA XI, Literary Arts, Paramaribo, Suriname, Travel, Uncategorized, what I did this summer, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Guest Blog: Robert E. Sandiford on Writing Erotica

Robert E. Sandiford

Robert Edison Sandiford is the author of eight books, including the forthcoming novel And Sometimes They Fly. He is the editor with Linda M. Deane of Shouts from the Outfield: The ArtsEtc Cricket Anthology (www.artsetcbarbados.com) and has worked as a journalist, publisher, video producer, and teacher.

It’s a question I get asked from time to time: “Why do you write erotica?”

This time it came in an interview by a senior colleague, a fellow Barbadian writer who is also an academic.

“You’ve done other things, of course, and I’ve no problem with erotica, but it’s still such a taboo subject, especially in the black community.”

More recently, a middle-aged woman stopped me outside the Super Centre in Oistins, a fishing town along Barbados’ south coast, to ask me if I was the writer of those “rather spicy books” and if I had produced any more. She was talking about my erotic graphic novels for NBM; it turned out she didn’t have the latest, Great Moves. “I mean, there’s nothing wrong with stuff like that. We’re all walking around thinking it…and then you’re talking about us in your books, Caribbean people.”

She understood. My mother, having come across discarded drafts of my erotica years ago, was less thrilled; being my mother, perhaps, but also being of a generation that, no matter how free you were physically with your partner in letters or behind closed doors, viewed sex as something not expressed or written about publicly.

“I came across some of your stories….”

“Some of my stories…?”

“Yes. Your stories…dealing with somebody…sleeping with somebody….”

“Oh…OH. Sorry…sorry….”

“I know you write a lot of things…there’s no reason to apologize…that’s just not what I prefer to read from you.”

And we’ve never discussed my erotica, prose or comics, since, though my mom continues to be one of my greatest supporters as a writer, travelling with me to readings when she can and defending my work when a critic feels I’ve been too harsh about my subject, particularly if the subject is Caribbean people.

*

My first published short story was in the UK literary journal Erotic Stories. It was called “Mirror Image,” and was about a boy and a girl who pass each other in a Montreal bus then go home to have interconnected dreams during the night. The story resurfaces as “Open Doors” in my new collection of prose erotic fiction, Intimacy 101: Rooms & Suites.

I was paid about 150 pounds sterling for the 2000-word story. The editor was interested in any others I had like it. I didn’t have any others at the time, but I started to research the market to see what erotic publications I could contribute to.

One of my main reasons for writing erotica was to make money—easy money. For some reason, I thought selling erotica would be as simple as selling pornography. Both deal with sex, right? Yes, but differently; and what would sell to, say, Hustler did not appeal to Erotic Stories.

Nor was pornography a quick sell. There had to be a measure of good storytelling with both genres, I realized, but an emphasis on why people did what they did with each other was more crucial to successful erotica than what they did to each other, which was more pornography’s focus.

Over the years, I went on to write for Eidos, Screw, Perceptions, Paramour. The work ranged from feature articles on what partners name their lovers’ privates to very short stories that were more poetry than prose. Sometimes I was paid in hearty US dollars (a big deal for a young writer based in Canada in the early ’90s), most times I was paid in contributors copies.

This wasn’t really so disappointing. Another reason I had for writing erotica was to branch out with my work: to write something that a different set of readers would pick up from me and to write stories that would challenge me in unexpected ways. A long-time reader and collector of comics, I eventually decided to seek out the possibility of adapting my stories to that medium, too.

*

But I don’t see genre when I write (or read, actually). Beyond the technical requirements or obvious demands of form and subject matter, I don’t make much distinction between a feature or a short story or a poem, between literary fiction, speculative fiction or detective fiction. A good narrative’s a good narrative if well told, regardless the manner in which it is communicated.

I have what I consider a natural, healthy interest in sex and sexuality and sexual expression, and their connection to love and lust and desire…and all manner of relationships. To tell a story that in some way deals with the human condition—with what it means to be human and to live as a human in the times in which we find ourselves—requires delving into and grappling with how people relate to each other intimately, which includes in bed.

It’s just as important to know how your character makes love as to know how she wages war. Such knowledge may determine the course of a story or suggest why another character behaves as he does toward her, and why the outcome of their encounter or interactions could follow no other course.

If there is no story without good tension, then sexual tension is some of the best available. It need not always be graphically or explicitly displayed, but there’s something more we all see and feel—beyond arousal or embarrassment—when we peer in on people in the act of love.

We glimpse ourselves in a light that makes it hard to hide from our own motives and desires and disappointments. It’s a light that briefly reveals us. Like the lady at the supermarket said, we’re all walking around thinking much the same thoughts while trying hard not to let them show.

Intimacy 101: Rooms & Suites, Robert’s recently released collection of short stories, is available from The Book Place (bkplace@caribsurf.com) and the Publisher (rob@theindependentpress.com)

Posted in Barbados, Books, erotica, Guest Blog, Reading, Robert E. Sandiford, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

To Protect & Serve & Me

The cover of my latest book created by the talented Linda Deane.

The cover of my latest book created by the talented Linda Deane.

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My Dream & Me

In the last two months or so I’ve been busy putting the finishing touches on my two latest novellas: To Protect & Serve (published today!) and Fantasy Fulfilled (soon come!).
It’s been a trying time – what with balancing the day job(s), the joys of motherhood and everyday livity. But then, these are trying times, right?
As the time to upload my books to my Smashwords page approached, I found myself dragging my feet on a number of issues – final edits, cover design approval, marketing…. Those sorts of things…. I recognised the familiar empty nest symptoms I seem to acquire whenever I’m about to release a new book.
Each of my books is a dear part of me and I always feel a sense of loss as I send them out into the world… also, to be honest I feel a sense of fear: Will readers like my stories? Will they like them enough? Will I have to hurt someone for daring to call my “children” ugly? And while I know these insecurities border on the ridiculous in some instances, knowing that hardly mutes the nagging doubts.
Last year I celebrated my birthday with a sense of sadness. No, not because of my advancing age (I ceased adding years a few years ago when I became comfortable with becoming 45 and saw no need to count beyond that milestone!) but because as much as I enjoyed and appreciated the gifts and the presence of family and friends at the small gathering, the one thing I want more than anything (well not anything but badly enough that I feel the burn in my belly!) still eludes me: international success as a bestselling author.
There was a time when my dream was to be a writer. Done!
Then I longed to be a good writer. Done (with constant room for improvement, of course)!
Then I wished to be a published writer. Done!
Now I want to known as a good writer! Globally!
I want to write stories so entertaining that people want to talk about them in the lunchroom at work… you know, like they talk about the latest popular prime time dramas.
That’s how I want to make my mark as a writer. (And while I’m at it I’ll also make some “foolish money”, as one friend puts it.)
That’s my dream!
Perhaps To Protect & Serve (Drama) and Fantasy Fulfilled (Romance) will be the ones to propel me towards realisation of that vision. The Ones.
Time will tell.
Meanwhile I keep dreaming; I keep the faith….
I write….

Nailah is founder of Caribbean Passion, the Caribbean’s premier Romance series. She is the author of the Romance novellas To Star, With Love, Someone To Watch Over Me, Second Time Around, and Cruising to Love. She is also the author of the YA novellas Colourblind, available on Amazon and Smashwords, and Pick of the Crop. Her latest novella is To Protect & Serve.

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More Erotica & Me

Attractive Forces Cover (April 2006)
In November 2012 I featured an interview with Eve Seymour, a new Caribbean writer of Erotica. Her rambunctious tale, Broken Rules puts her firmly in line to become the foremost Caribbean writer of Erotica. (Those of you who’ve read the book, please correct me if I’m wrong!)

Now, please allow me to introduce you to the work of Robert E. Sandiford, whom I consider the foremost Caribbean writer of Erotica at this time.

Robert E. is no newcomer on the local, regional and international scenes. Journalist, essayist, biographer, short story writer, novelist, video producer and editor extraordinaire, he is one of Barbados’s top contemporary writers.

To date he’s written and had published short story collections, essays, his memoirs, and (my favourite!) a series of erotic graphic novels: Attractive Forces, Stray Moonbeams and Great Moves.

Stray Moonbeams Cover

What I like best about these comic books is the writing; the way Robert uses ordinary language in extraordinary ways; the way the illustrations (which are fantastic!) and the script complement each other so perfectly.

This isn’t a formal review so I’m not going to go on and on. You want to know more? You’ll have to beg for, borrow (not mine! So don’t ask…) or buy them and discover for yourselves.

Click here: http://www.nbmpub.com/eurotica/esandiford/esandifordhome.html or go to Amazon or any of the other major online bookstores.

Great Moves Cover

If you’re in Barbados, go to The Book Place on Probyn Street in Bridgetown and get your copy. I think I bought their last copy of Stray Moonbeams, but I’m sure they’ve restocked by now. Drop them a line via bookpl@caribsurf.com to find out.

And, by the way, Intimacy 101: Rooms & Suites, a collection of erotic prose from which many of the comics stories were adapted, is due out in April so keep your eyes and ears peeled.

Finally, I must add: Fans of erotic fiction, these books are a MUST-READ! (And yes, I’m shouting!)

Now, please return the favour…. What book(s) are you eager to shout about? Let me know soonest….

Nailah is founder of Caribbean Passion, the Caribbean’s premier Romance series. She is the author of the Romance novellas To Star, With Love, Someone To Watch Over Me, Second Time Around, and Cruising to Love. She is also the author of the YA novellas Colourblind, available on Amazon and Smashwords, and Pick of the Crop.

To read more please visit: www.smashwords.com/profile/view/nailah

Posted in Barbados, Books, erotica, Eve Seymour, Love, Reading, Robert E. Sandiford, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Nailah I:

Am reposting this because, really, the same goes for 2013!
Having said that… this year I also wish for the endurance to complete the rollercoaster ride the next 12 months promise to be; I wish that I make it through in one (spiritual, emotional, mental and physical!) piece.
2013 is already looking like a time for many (life-changing) changes….
I’m looking forward to the ride!
Are you?

Originally posted on caribbeanpassion:

As a child (encouraged by my parents), every New Year I’d make long lists of things I planned to do to improve myself during the year. For the most part, the list-making was an exercise in futility, for my resolve would last the first four days of the year at most (and that was in a good year!). I must not have taken the ritual too seriously, though, since my self-esteem seems to have survived the trauma of such concentrated failure at such a young age.

As I got older, I had enough sense to shorten those lists, first to ten, then to seven, then to three items. One year, I made only one resolution: To make no resolutions. Of course that’s the only year I ever succeeded in maintaining my resolve for the 12 months.

These days, I don’t bother too much about composing the NYR list. If there’s…

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