Today we’re sitting down with Delaney Diamond, the site manager of "Romance Novels in Color." "Romance Novels in Color" promotes diversity in romance novels, which is great to hear. Too many novels focus on a "default"(white) experience, when love is experienced by all. They do some really fun things there, so we thought maybe they would be interested in coming on down. Guess what? They were!
1. What is Romance Novels in Color? Who is involved? Why do you feel as though Romance Novels in Color is necessary?
Romance Novels in Color (RNIC) is a review site that promotes the appreciation and awareness of diversity in romance novels. To meet our goal, we have a volunteer group of reviewers and offer advertising to authors. Our other volunteers include Kimberlee Stevenson, an avid reader and our Social Media Manager; Anna D., our Assistant Manager who handles everything from author promotions to advertising; MJ Kane, a published author and the Editor of our author and reader newsletters; Roxy Wilson, a published author who is our Review Coordinator; and Laurel Cremant, also a published author and RNIC’s regular blogger who shares romance industry news with her wicked sense of humor.
I felt RNIC was necessary for a number of reasons. It gives those who write diverse characters a chance to find readers who are specifically seeking out their kinds of books; RNIC also gives these authors a chance to be reviewed when their books would otherwise be overlooked by review sites who have reviewers that state they can’t “relate” to the characters; and it provides a platform to promote these well-written books, disproving the notion that they’re not as well-written as other romance novels. Our tagline is “You have no idea what you’ve been missing.” We just want to get the word out that these books are out there, available, and they’re great reads!
2. How does your group of contributors work? Do you all contact each other directly? Do you have to agree on everything? Are there times where you disagree on books? What is it like working with like minds?
We’re a review site first and foremost, so anyone can submit a book as long as it meets our requirement of having a person of color as the hero or heroine and is a romance novel. We then let the reviewers choose from the list of submitted novels to read books that they would be interested in.
As for the rest of the staff, we have internal guidelines, but each contributor basically takes the ball and runs with it. For instance, Kimberlee (our Social Media Manager) loves to read and is happy to promote the books on our fan page and Twitter page. On Fridays she highlights authors who write diversity into their novels, and that’s strictly her choice whom she picks to highlight. Laurel Cremant regularly reads about what’s going on in romance, and she writes about what she thinks is hot, what’s on her reading list, and other industry news.
It’s great working with like minds. We’re all passionate about reading and passionate about promoting books that feature diverse peoples. We work very well together. If I have a new idea for the site, I’ll run it by the group and get their feedback—pros and cons and such. They’ll also send me emails from time to time with ideas for us to test out. If it sounds good, we do it. As long as it meets our goal to bring awareness to these characters, we pretty much do it.
3. How did Romance Novels in Color start? Is it specifically interracial? Or people of color in general?
It started when I and other authors heard comments in the blogosphere that people didn’t know where to find books with diversity and claimed the ones they found were often subpar. After tossing the idea around for a bit, I created the site and pulled in volunteers to assist. We promote people of color in general, though most of our submissions are interracial. But we’ve also reviewed and promoted books where both the hero and heroine were of the same race – such African-American romances, romances with Native Americans, and romances with Hispanic characters.
4. Why do you think people come to your website? Are you guys open to different genres of romance? Does an author have to be traditionally published to be featured?
People come to our site because we’re a one-stop-shop for any genre of romance, but the characters in the pages just happen to be diverse. We review and promote new adult, contemporary, LGBT, romantic suspense – you name it, we’ve done it and we’re always looking for more! I’m an indie-published author, so we welcome both traditionally published and indie-published authors.
5. What draws a certain book to the site's attention? Will you spotlight any book? Or does it have to be well reviewed beforehand?
We spotlight any book, no matter how many reviews the author has, but we stay away from the usual taboo subjects, such as bestiality and incest. We also steer clear of straight erotica, but we review and promote heat levels from sweet to erotic romance. On Fridays we offer spots to authors to do a blog post or interview in conjunction with a giveaway. As long as we can fit the author into our schedule, we will share their story on our blog.
6. What do you think are the perks of "Romance Novels in Color?” Are there any downsides to "Romance Novels in Color?"
The perks are definitely that our audience is actively looking for these niche books and seeking to find more authors who write them. Authors will find that we’re very responsive to emails and easy to work with. Because some of our staff is made up of published authors, we understand authors’ needs and expectations and strive to accommodate them.
As far as downsides…hmm…I can’t think of a single one.
7. What type of female protagonist stands out to you the most?
My personal favorites are smart heroines who are strong enough to handle an alpha hero (my favorite hero). But they also have a softer, feminine side to counter his machismo. When an author can show the contrasts between both characters and how they complement each other, that’s perfection to me!
8. What was the last book you read (or few) that highlighted "Romance in Color" brilliantly? Why do you think it was a great effort? Is there any advice you can give aspiring authors when it comes to writing "Romance in Color?"
I enjoy reading historical romance and one that I read recently and enjoyed was Jeannie Lin’s Capturing the Silken Thief. It was a welcome change from the usual European historical. This book transports you back in time to 823 AD of the Tang Dynasty, and there was great chemistry between the two protagonists. Another one that I thoroughly enjoyed was Chanta Rand’s Resisting Cupid. I would call it a romantic comedy. It’s an interracial romance (bw/wm) with some funny scenes and smoking hot chemistry between the hero and heroine. Because This is Forever by Lena Hart is another one I read recently and enjoyed. I ended up buying it because one of our reviewers wrote such a good review about it, I had to read it. (That’s one of the hazards of running a review site – finding all these great books to read!). It has a low heat level, but was so well-written that it engaged me from the first page. It’s an interracial romance (bw/wm) and includes one of my favorite romance tropes, the secret baby plot.
Writing romance with characters of color is no different than writing any other romance, so the same type of advice applies: make sure you get a good editor/proofreader, do your research, write engaging, three-dimensional characters, and perfect the art of romance storytelling. There are norms in the genre that should be observed to meet reader expectations. Know when and how to bend the rules to add flavor and depth to the story.
9. Where can people go to receive updates, or information on anything and everything "Romance Novels in Color?"
Our one-year anniversary is coming up on April 1st. We’ve got a few things planned to celebrate, so come on over and join us in the following locations:
Sign up for our newsletters: http://buff.ly/1gqKy8R
Thank you for having me on your blog and giving us the opportunity to spread the word about Romance Novels in Color!
To encourage your readers to check out the site, we’d like to sponsor a small giveaway.
Prize: a $10 Amazon gift card
To enter: Visit the RNIC site and bring back the title and author name of a paranormal or sci-fi novel that we’ve reviewed. Write it in the comments. (Note, they can use our popular tags to find books in those genres.)
Deadline to enter: March 30th, 2014 at 11:59 PM EST.
See! With Romance Novels in Color, you have a chance to win two giveaways! Just comment on the RNIC site and follow the instructions above!!!
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