Sunday, January 29, 2017

Saint's sins...

On April 20th, 2012, a book that rocked the IR romance genre was released that was almost NOT released.

I realized that the book had a high chance of not being well received. I put off releasing it, convinced myself at one point in time that it was best to simply keep it to myself. But then one day, I decided to go on ahead and have it edited and see where the chips fell. Funny, I dragged my feet on releasing it even after all of that time and effort, even after it’s immediate sequel was written and edited, too. It wasn’t even supposed to be a series, it was supposed to be just one book… a Hero of Black women during a time when we were, and still are, subjugated to negativity that we do not deserve. This movement of an active and festering attack on women of African ancestry has been alive and well and socially accepted for at least two decades. It is demonstrated in the musical lyrics sung by men that we throw our hard earned money away to support as they discuss us as if we are merely created to service them and provide sexual gratification alone. It is shown in the books written by those that wish for us to adopt this warped notion that if we do not fall in line, we will fall from grace. It is broadcast on social media and videos from people who either know the truth, but simply don’t care because YouTube is now a viable way to make income, especially if you are being messy, trashing others, threatening, roasting folks, etc. When we as human being are being “rewarded” for losing our humanity, we also lose our hold on reality.

As an author, and a Black woman, and a lady in love, happily married with two beautiful children, I witnessed and occasionally experienced the aftermath of verbal, emotional and mental abuse via those that are threatened by Black women who do not live in fear due to not meeting the stereotypical stepping stones and criteria set out for us by people who have in general, shown a lack of concern for our overall well being. Love is not the same as being controlled, and loyalty should not be a blank check to an entity, force or movement that is steeped in manipulative and emotionally abusive tactics. There was an especially heinous backlash for those of us whom chose to date, love and marry men who are equally yoked with us, despite their cultural background. We were not choosing our mates due to their melanin concentration, we were choosing mates whom treated us well, that we had mutual respect with, could grow a family with. If that man was Black, great, if he was White, that was great, too. If he was Asian, Indian etc. so be it! We were deciding to step out of the box and look at the total picture, not be closed-minded and accept that the man that our Creator may have for us, may not be the same ethnic makeup as us.  He may come in different gift-wrapping. Wow! Surprising! Though Black women and non-Black men still make up the smallest percentage of IR/MC marriages (interracial/multicultural), we are a growing percentage, and that has caused curiosity, alarm, anger, misunderstanding and at times, lashing out. This climate, this situation and the misguided, warped and hatred driven movement to attempt to prevent any further refugees from escaping Blackistan, is the catalyst that gave birth to a character named, Dr. Saint Aknaten. 

Saint came to me in my dreams…

He is the only character where I consistently would write until the wee hours of the morning and literally almost each and every time, not recall the bulk of what I’d written the evening previous. It was like I was in some trance. These characters need to be fed, and the muse for Saint had taken possession of me. A stated, he arrived in my dreams, and then demanded his story be told. That story was, “The Naughty Sins of a Saint” and “When Saint Goes Marching In.”

Saint books take a lot of time and energy to write. However, because it almost feels like I’m ghost writing for some invisible entity, there is a bit of ease when I write them as well. They just seem to magically come together, more times than not, in ways I didn’t expect. Here’s the curious thing about Saint though…

Though he is highly controversial due to his abrasive language, overt sexual nature, New York/South Bronx upbringing which fostered a rather tough personality, he was way more accepted into the reading community than I’d originally imagined. Matter of fact, I was shocked to see the first two books soon after their release and word spread, selling at a rate that was more than admirable, especially for a fairly new author on the block. It appeared that Saint either was highly loved or deeply hated and resented. There were few who swam in the middle of the ‘What do you think if Saint?’ pond. 

I would receive ‘hate mail’ from people, mostly Black women and Black men, who felt somehow wounded by this fictional half Korean, half Egyptian man. I’m convinced some didn’t even actually read the book based on their non-accurate assessments of events, but that’s neither here nor there. Anyway, Saint told the truth many times, and I refuse to apologize for that. I agree with many things Saint said, some I do not, I had to use some creative license here, but again, Saint and I’s private conversations about politics, sexism etc. are personal. Hell, even the love of his life, Xenia, his beautiful wife, doesn’t agree with everything her husband says and does! Who realistically, co-signs on EVERYTHING that a particular person thinks? That’s not even realistic but I digress. Some people complained that he was overkill, a brute; his taste in music was blah, so on and so forth. They either completely missed the point, were nit picking because they felt somehow personally attacked by him, had issues with alpha men in general, or he just wasn’t their cup of tea- which I totally get. No harm. No foul. Some readers didn’t like the idea of a man telling them their flaws, especially a non-Black man. Yup. It’s true. Saint wasn’t just a put the Black lady on a pedestal type of guy, because to TRULY educate and help people, you have to tell the ENTIRE truth, not just the cute and cozy parts. I expected for these women who felt he was misogynistic, an asshole with no filter, to come forth. BUT… I also got a boatload of love letters about Saint, mostly from Black women, but every blue moon, a non-black man would write me and say something to the effect,

“My wife/girlfriend is Black. She bought this book and began to cheat on me with her new book boyfriend. She became obsessed with a guy named Saint from New York. Thank you, Tiana. I am now having the best sex of my life!” LOL!

The one thing that makes it all worth it are the two emails that I received where two readers stated that he saved their lives… they were suicidal. So for that reason for certain, I’d do it all over again. This man, fictional or not, became MORE than a book boyfriend for some readers.

Saint became a muse, a curiosity and a teacher. Teacher… yeah, and that’s the thing. See, the books became a series. At the time, I was a reluctant series writer. But Saint is gregarious. He kept talking, He kept demanding to be heard, and I kept dreaming and then writing. But then, resentment set in…

Saint, on record, appears to be five books total – six if you include a shoot off story called, “Cruz Control” that now only appears in paperback. (Part of an anthology with two other authors – Olivia Gaines and Xyla Turner.) – Book title: “The Company.” In actuality, the Saint series is actually 9 books – because over half of them are double novels. I now divide up double novels, because these books were HUGE. “Saved and SAINTified” was almost 1000 pages, folks. So yeah, there is PLENTY of Saint available. Now, the reason I brought up resentment is because the numbers, reviews etc. didn’t match the alleged love. Saint has been alive and breathing for over 4 years, and he just, in 2017, made it to 100 reviews… (My husband verified this for me) yet he was selling. Something wasn’t right…

What was going on here? Where were all of these people that allegedly loved Saint so much, but were too afraid to leave a review, or didn’t feel it was important, or didn’t have enough time to write one (though it literally can take less than 3 minutes)?  I kept being asked to deliver, but saw no investment to 'Keep hope alive' so to speak. Where was the support for the 9 previous books? This is not a woe-is-me post. Trust me on that. I've processed the reality of the issue and I'm over it like a bridge, but the question still remains...

Why should I, as an artist, keep slaving away for something that takes a hell of a lot of time, energy, research, gearing up, getting into character (Because you can’t just sit down and write a Saint novel, I literally have to become him and get into character—and he is a piece of work) why should I keep doing that over and over and over again when the book is being pirated left and right, when some people aren’t even really getting the TRUE message of Saint – they are just swimming in the intense and graphic sex scenes and missing the entire damn point? Now let me be clear. I am not talking about ALL OF THE READERS of the Saint series nor everyone who has questioned me about further books in the series! Obviously this sentiment doesn’t apply to all of you, and I am incredibly grateful for that reality. However, the thing I detest most is when I announce another book of mine is about to drop and someone says, without acknowledgement of the book I just posted which will be ready to read in a week or less,



I WANT MORE SAINT. THE F--K WITH WHATEVER ELSE YOU MAY WANT TO DO, I WANT MORE OF HIM INSTEAD. (They didn't say that last part, I'm just being melodramatic.)
No, hi, how are you doing, nothing.

These comments/questions out of this context are perfectly fine, expected and acceptable. I am BEYOND thankful that many of my readers found me due to Saint—but when an author is announcing something else they are doing, something new, and we can’t even get a hello, congrats on the new book, can’t wait to find out what this is about, etc. – and they go straight to Saint book interrogation in a post about a NEW BOOK that has NOTHING to do with Saint, it just drives in the point/sentiment even further that, "This isn't okay with me..."

“ I’m an artist; I don’t want to be pigeon holed. I don’t feel the Saint series is even well understood.” See, that’s one of my main goals, and the fact that I didn’t seem to meet it is disheartening for me. I’ve gotten over it, but in that moment of realization, it was devastating. Let me explain further what I’m talking about…

Saint is a sex addict and sex therapist. But he is FAR MORE than sex. He is sensual, he is very attractive physically, he is tall, he is well off financially, and he is addicted to his wife, highly protective of his family, and refuses to be talked down to or treated like some flunky by ANYONE. He has a good heart, a ridiculously huge ego, he can be draining, at times bratty – but he is so giving, so intelligent, funny and full of life, that my life is permanently intertwined with his. I can NEVER leave Saint, and he can NEVE leave me. We are tied at the hip. He provided a public service announcement – a call to action. He placed a mirror in front of our faces and said,
“LOOK AT YOURSELF!” But some readers didn’t do as he instructed…

They only held on to the ‘Oh my’ and ‘Clutch your pearls’ passages –violent fights and graphic descriptions of Saint making love to his wife. Those were important too, they were crucial to the story, but they weren’t the ONLY parts of the story. The wisdom gems were tossed aside, not given a second glance.

And honestly, that stung me as an artist. Perhaps I missed the mark. Maybe my execution was flawed. When favorite Saint book quotes roll in, more times than not, they are dominated by the sexual acts, or something sassy from Mama Pam. Those are great too; I had a hell of a fun time writing them… but what about the 10s, 20s, and 30s of pages of Saint speaking to the Black Queens and Rainbeaus at conferences? What about him addressing our low self esteem issues and how they arose? What about his relationship with Bomb? Scenes with his father?What about racism he discussed in this country (USA)? About interracial love and how Black love comprise ALL love, because we ALL came from the original Black woman and man! Why don’t I see this more?

 Because I failed…

I've received threats on my life, because I chose to write IR/MC romance, entertain and help my sistas…

But I failed.

I am told I am a bed wench, but yet, I write another Saint book, and it too, didn’t seem to be fully understood by many… I failed.
I took valuable time away from my family to sit and write these long ass books, from the POV of a cunning, yet soul-draining man/character, and that’s not even appreciated enough for a review to be left...

I failed.

Some of the books in the Saint series haven’t even hit the 60 review mark last I’d heard. (I don’t read my reviews after the first few days of a book launch) But yet… some readers still want me to kill myself and write these Saint books. I know it sounds dramatic, but it’s not. Each time I sit and write a book, beautiful readers, I pour my heart and soul into them. Not all of my books will resonate with each and every one of you, but my dedication as far as I’m concerned, should not be even questionable.

So… when I’m asked when is another Saint book coming out, I answer truthfully…
“I never say never, but there are no plans for that at this time.”

I want to create a million worlds for my readers to dive into. I need diversity, because I’m a diverse person, I also need to be understood. If I feel as if my message in my art is not being understood, then it would be foolish on my part to not at least ponder that situation. I love Saint. I love him so much, that I know I would have a hard time telling him no if he came to me in a dream again, but like any dream to become reality, he and I both need fuel. Saint has to be fed. And he is an egomaniac. His pride is wounded, and I can’t too much blame him. He is grateful that his love making skills have garnered attention from thousands of women, but he wants the knowledge that pours out of his mouth, that was intended to cover and coat and saturate your heart, to be just as mind bending, memorable and exciting to you.

Ladies, sex, is cerebral… I love your body, the color of your skin and the glorious kink of your hair, but making love to your mind was always my MAIN objective…

And yeah, Saint didn't just write that last line, he wrote this whole damn blog.


Saint Aknaten

To Purchase the series:

"The Naughty Sins of a Saint"


"When Saint Goes Marching In"

"Saved and SAINTified" - (double novel)

"Saint's Sacrament - Sins of the Father" - (double novel)

"Saint and Sinners - The King Angel Child of New York" - (double novel)

"Cruz Con

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Introverted Author

The introverted author

I’m sure, comes as no surprise that a fair number of writers, published and non-published, are natural introverts. Our minds after all are filled with stories, ideas, pieces of characters and scenarios that we’ve concocted either right there Johnny on the spot or have been nesting and nursing for months, perhaps years. Being an introverted author myself, it takes much psyching myself up to present myself to crowds in which the light will be upon me, even for a short duration. I don’t tend to enjoy that, I’d much rather drift in the background like a leaf blowing in the wind… you see me, but you don’t. I prefer the words in my books to be the star performers, while I pull puppet strings in the background via a completed novel. Being an introverted author has pros and cons…

One, I regard my connections in almost a spiritual way. I am guarded now due to experience, being burned a few times and simply wishing to just keep things to myself, so if I open up to someone, for me at least, that’s a pretty big deal. Some of my readers that have actually met me in person have stated, “Tiana, you’re down to earth.” Or, “You seem open, approachable.” I do not have a diva type attitude as it pertains to getting to know and fellowship with my readers. I have to urinate, blow my nose and brush my teeth just like the rest of you. TMI, but you get the point. This fact of me being ‘open’ so to speak, has afforded me a friendship of sorts  with some of my readers. That’s important, for our reputation as authors is part of our brand and how we treat our readers can impact that. That brings me to a con, however… sometimes the introverted author does not wish to engage.

What that means is, for example, let’s say a reader sends me an email. (Lately I’ve been having my emails screened due to receiving ones that let’s just say, are not beneficial to me or anyone else for that matter.) I, being the person I am, wish to respond to each email I receive but time to time an author may run across someone whom as soon as you respond to them, they take that as an invitation to slide shade in their emails under the guise of 'love', also in the disguise as fan-dom. I’m not one of your little friends and I’m not Boo-Boo the fool, just as some of our mama’s used to tell us, lol.

So I end up teetering on the fence—I don’t want to ignore the individual, but acknowledging them may fed their inner troll-dom. As for the past 8-10 months, the screening process has been a big help and I don’t have to deal with this nearly as much, therefore, I am not compelled to feel an obligation to a person who wishes to try and pull a fast one. I do however, get immense pleasure from emails from individuals who enjoy my books and let me know. Those emails get through to me and I respond as needed. (I will do a separate blog about ‘author abuse’ at a later date.) So anywho, social media and emails are a curse and a blessing all at once. More people have access to their favorite authors, singers, etc. than ever and it is not unreasonable to receive a tweet, email, and FB message back from someone you enjoy as far as their expression of their art. It’s a win-win situation, and my readers are awesome, so the engagement is fine, especially since afterward I can slink back into my little cave. 

In closing, I like being an introvert, people. It took me a long time to accept that I’m strange, overly-reflective, take my friendships seriously even if said ‘friend’ didn’t feel the same, live inside of my head, can be at times emotional and at other times cold and unmoved. I need my space and private time or I will begin to disengage and can become quite irritable. (Don't feed me after midnight.) I at times love animals more than people. (Shrugs shoulders). It’s cool with me now, I’m fine being introverted, matter of fact, I wouldn't have it any other way -- it is part of who I am. Some of my best ideas come to me when I am away from the world, dancing inside my own mind. My dreams even create stories – example, the character Dr. Saint Aknaten came from a dream. Go figure?
You can purchase that book on Amazon here. Just click this link.

Introverts unite! 
(In separate rooms with locked doors and peepholes… I’m just sayin’.)


Tiana Laveen

P.S. If you haven’t already, take a look at my latest two books released a mere 2 weeks ago for the Raven Maxim series. All of the books in that series are stand alone – so feel free to jump in anywhere you wish. Thus far, there are three books in the series:

1. Ghost Writer

Link to purchase Ghost Writer. Click here.

Thank you for visiting my blog… until next time.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

That Sweet and Sour Character

That Sweet and Sour Book Character

In my first book of my Raven Maxim series, “Ghost Writer”, I deal with an array of complex characters, yet, they are relatable. One character that rubbed many readers the wrong way, while gave many others abundant chuckles, was Aunt Sugar. 

Do you know why some hated this woman, some loved her and some hated and loved her at the same time? Because she was a sweet and sour soul…

A sweet and sour soul is a person who is stewed in ignorance, hurtful ways and stubbornness. They seem void of any educational leanings, and believe that their own thoughts and beliefs should be adopted by all. They are difficult people, albeit complex people and they get on many people’s last nerve. These people are also teachers, however, and despite how they often come across, they are far from stupid.
They have lived many life times, endured hurts that many of us have never seen nor would we survive, and one of their own mechanisms to simply make it, was to build a wall, a fence if you will, around themselves. This fence can come across as being closed off, as being devoid of empathy for others. As being set in their ways, silly, delusional and down right crazy. But one thing that makes them different from someone who literally wakes up in hopes of destroying another person’s zest for life, is that they DO care. They DO love. They DO cherish. 

They often live in the past, because the past, to them is safe. There are no unknowns there, and they know their way around the roads of yesteryear quite well. The future is scary for them, for there is no crystal ball available to tell them each and every turn that is to come. The Aunt Sugars of the world remind us of what we do not want to be, but also, what in some ways, we must become in order to truly accept ourselves. They are not as they appear – they are so much more than that. We miss the blessing in looking them in the eye, hearing their voice and growing weary of their stories if we take them only at face value. They are rich with lessons – the ones we should avoid, and the ones we should repeat. 

So before we laugh at Aunt Sugar, or hate her with a passion, perhaps we should observe her from various angles and hold her somewhere in the middle… She’s a sweet and sour soul, indeed.
She is served best in small doses, but she is a delicacy, an acquired taste, a learning lesson on repeat and a treasure, all the same…
- Author Tiana Laveen