Of course some of my stories are inspired by real communities (Rosedale Park, Palmer Park, Sherwood Forest in Detroit) fictionalized through my characters.
**any similarities between these communities, my characters and real people are purely coincidental**
For me romance is about entertainment and escapism. Going into a world of make believe for an hour or two and even longer. Ironically enough when I was an avid reader—gothic romance or historical romance were my go to genres. I could go through two romance novels a week.
Thing is, none of the heroines looked like me—a Black woman. As a Black reader I wanted to read a story about women that looked like me, in love with her handsome Prince Charming in the scenario that I wanted her to be in.
So what did I do? I decided to write my own stories and chose affluent Black communities as the backdrop—as opposed to the hood/urban romance that are highly popular.
Which brings me to the point of this post—when I started writing, my goal was to write clean, Christian romance. And though I think there is a market out here for that, the landscape of courtship and dating has changed since the first book I wrote some 16 years ago.
I ultimately veered off and decided to be a little more realistic with my heroines, in that, most women are not waiting until marriage today or even 16 years ago, but that was the story I wanted to tell of my characters. For some readers the idea of waiting is just too unrealistic.
So, you may wonder, what does affluent Black communities and gothic romance have to do with each other? Nothing actually, but to write a believable story for a Black heroine I had to think of a world to put her in.
As I mentioned earlier, hood/urban stories are all the rage right now and while they hold no interest for me, I have incorporated some superficial urban nuances in some of my stories.
For example in Jewel—A Chance at Love, Jewel is instrumental in helping to revitalize her urban community.
Or, I have some of my characters spend time downtown—specifically downtown Detroit.
I like to tell myself that my stories are Hallmark Channel-ish, but with Black characters. Although, when I think of Hallmark Channel, I think of small town, quaint, picturesque—cutesy. I hope when people read my stories this is what it conveys. Light-hearted, feel-good with a balance of romance and drama.
So, where are the real affluent Black communities?
I got this list from BET
Starring Queen Latifah, Jada Pickett, Regina Hall and Tiffany Haddish.
When four lifelong friends travel to New Orleans for the annual Essence Festival, sisterhoods are rekindled, wild sides are rediscovered, and there's enough dancing, drinking, brawling, and romancing to make the Big Easy blush. Credit IMDB
Before seeing this movie I read on a social media site about a YouTube video by Boyce Watkins and a forum where Black men were talking despairingly about this movie. (According to them—showing Black women in a negative, stereotypical light)
The majority of women who took exception to their words were upset because they felt it was just a blow against Black women trying to be happy, carefree and living life on their terms—and men being upset because they weren’t the center of attention etc. (don’t know how true that is, that’s just an example of what I read online)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JXNJqzSCqvE Boyce Watkins video
I listened to what Boyce Watkins had to say—but wasn’t going to let it be a deterrent. I still wanted to see and support this movie. I enjoyed the movie, it was well done, it was LOL funny and it had some touching moments—pretty predictable.
Now, as much as I liked this movie, Boyce Watkins does have a point—the over-sexualization of the characters in this movie and the subliminal message of what it is sending to young Black girls and young Black ladies in general—a demographic that is already high risk for STD’s and adding to the OOW epidemic.
At the same time, part of me says, it’s just a movie and we are damned if we do and damned if we don’t. At the end of the day this is a movie Black women wanted to see and didn’t we come out and support this movie? We sure did. 30.4 million opening day.
Maybe I’m wrong, but I feel that we as Black women are almost starved for a movie that shows us as something other than a slave, asexual, the Black *man-less token friend or the struggling downtrodden Black woman trope that I am so tired of. This movie was a breath of fresh air to me but I do see the pros and cons of the movie.
*Speaking of man-less, ironically all of the women were man-less in this movie except for Regina Hall’s character and even then her husband was a cheating so-and-so. But that is another point for another day.
Pros—funny, seeing 4 beautiful Black, educated, successful women, living life on their terms, sisterhood, a throwback to the 90’s—did I mention funny?
Cons—for me it was age appropriation, some of the antics showcased in this movie would have been better suited for younger women (even still it was a bit much at times)
Having 40-something, educated women acting irresponsible over sex and drinking wasn’t cute. As a matter of fact some of the lingo was definitely of a younger generation.
The swearing, I know people swear. But I was never a swearer and neither is my family. However, I know its common place for many homes.
I give the movie ★★★★☆
Get your girlfriends and support this movie
Facebook Destinee Romance Novella
This question “What is your favorite book that you wrote?” was posed to me the other day at a book fair. Fair question, but I was stuck like a deer in the headlights. I’m used to asking people what their favorite book is, or people asking me what my favorite book is—you know, a book written by someone else. So when the question came my way about one of my own books I was slightly taken aback and had to think about it.
I pointed to the book cover with my character Destinee on it A Love Worth Waiting For—Destinee’s Story. I said, well she is my first published work—I put my heart into her character. To the point where some readers asked me if the book was about me. It isn’t, but I do think a lot of writers put some of themselves into the books they write.
A writer and an author would understand. When you write, the book becomes a part of you, or maybe you become a part of that book—it’s a tossup. You eat, sleep and dream these characters and sometimes it’s hard to separate from them. They’re always in your mind doing or saying something.
I was glad for the question because it gave me a chance to answer a buyer and reader about what makes me tick, in a sense. I also told the reader, I was torn between my very first book A Love Worth… and my newest release The Millionaire—Diamonds are Forever.
These two books and the main characters Destinee and Quisha are opposites for the most part—although similarities are there. They are both college students, reared by single mothers. Each character had a wealthy man take a liking to them. Isn’t there a Cinderella in all of us?
But that’s where the similarities end in regards to—to be blunt, sex.
Destinee wants to maintain her virginity until marriage, and of course that hinders her dating prospects in modern dating. Quisha on the other hand, doesn’t have that constraint hanging over her head; she ends up working as a stripper to pay for college.
I chose these two books as my favorites because I think both characters, while different in some aspects are similar in that they want love, respect and happiness just like any other woman. Plus, I like their male counterparts. Perhaps one day I will do an article about which of my heroes I like the best. Edward (Destinee) or Chad (Quisha) hmmm.
By Lisa Marbly-Warir
Charley from Queen Sugar
First of all I would like to start off with, I absolutely love this show. So what I’m about to talk about isn’t a diss, but an observation I’ve witnessed a few times on TV in regards to well-to-do Black female characters. I’ve even seen it IRL.
Taking the Black woman down a peg or two—that’s how it seemed to me in the My Soul’s High Song 7/5/2017 Queen Sugar episode.
I could see—or at least it was my perception of disapproval on Remy’s face when Charley was looking at that beautiful stately home in gasp—the Landry’s, her competitor and nemesis’ community (I personally wouldn’t want to live down the street from an enemy especially the Landry’s)
However, I understood the message conveyed during that short exchange between Charley and Remy—Remy’s reasoning why Charley acquiring a big fancy house would be deemed audacious to the Black farmers in the area the very people she wants to help. Or was it something deeper, subconsciously? Was it a way to keep a Black person of means, especially a Black woman in her place?
I mean, how dare this successful Black woman buy a big house that she can clearly afford at the risk of offending the people in the area—both Black and White. I can’t think of a successful White female character, or successful White woman in general having to explain why she wants a big beautiful home in the area that she wants. So why is it a problem for Charley? Why does she have to downplay who she is? Was Remy right to question her about her choice?
It’s like we as a race have this idea that if one Black succeeds they should feel guilty about having more than the average or less fortunate Black and if a successful Black person is fortunate they must downplay it—as not to front or stunt on people still trying to get their piece of the American dream.
A few years ago I wrote about a successful Black hair care entrepreneur Jewel—A Chance at Love
who had the same type of scenario Charley had with Remy. Jewel wanted to purchase a home in a gated community. Her own business was in an urban area that she had helped revitalize and she wanted a home to reflect her new status in life. She was instantly met with haters who accused her of forgetting where she came from. So when I saw the same thing happen to Charley it struck a chord with me.
At the end of the Queen Sugar episode I did like the moving into the mill scene with her family rallying around her. Even after all that I just wrote, Charley and Micah living in the mill just made sense but I didn’t like that she had to be questioned about her original choice first.
If you haven't watched this show please check it out.
If it helps it's got some eye candy.
I do not own the image above
By Lisa Marbly-Warir
Got me to thinking about the main characters in my books and would they get along in real life? Reality TV—particularly The Housewives, draws in millions of viewers each week. We all have our favorite show(s) and our favorite ladies. My favorite reality TV shows are,
#The Real Housewives of Atlanta (Kenya, Cynthia, Kandi)
Beverly Hills (Lisa, Kyle, Erica)
#RHOP (Giselle, Monique, Robin)
and honorable mention #Married to Medicine (Dr. Heavenly, Dr. Jackie, Dr. Simone, Lisa)
I know these shows are mostly scripted, but for the off chance they are real to a certain degree—I came to the conclusion a while ago that some of these women can’t possibly be real friends. Real friends lift you up, they don’t throw shade and little digs.
Maybe I’m late to the party and missing the point. I guess we wouldn’t be tuning in if everything was always roses and sunshine.
Is strife and shade throwing the new norm in friendship? Or has it always been like this? I think yes for the most part. In high school I could differentiate between my real friends and the fake ones, or the ones who were wolves in sheep’s clothing.
You would think the older you get some of the trivialities of high school behavior would be water under the bridge, but sadly that is not the case.
I know my characters because I wrote them and while I would like to think they are kindred spirits—it isn’t likely they would be true friends. Some of them come from similar backgrounds and would ultimately run in the same circles; but they all have different life experiences, life goals and beginnings that probably wouldn’t sync with one another.
I get it, at the end of the day the women in the reality TV shows do what they do for a paycheck. The messier and more conniving they are gets them fans and a following and we tune in every week for their antics.
But would we put up with some of those behaviors in real life? Me? No.
So that brings me to the main female characters in my books—would they get along if they were in a reality TV show?
Let’s explore this—we have,
Destinee (A Love Worth Waiting For—Destinee’s Story) #1
She is the good girl out of all of the women. She, as with the other women I will mention have their own little antagonizer that is unique to them in their stories.
Destinee is really no stranger to ridicule for upholding certain standards about herself. She would get along with the other ladies for the most part, but she wouldn’t take their crap. I don’t see her as hanging with people she didn’t like just to hang with them.
Jewel (Jewel—A Chance at Love)
Jewel is the second oldest of all of the ladies (late thirties into her forties). Pettiness and phoniness is behind her. She’s an entrepreneur, and is about her money. So she wouldn’t have time to hang with messy women who would take her down.
Evermore (Under The Irish Moon)
Evermore follows the beat of her own drummer. She is a reader and an adventurer. She’s open-minded. She could possibly give the ladies a run for their money. She won’t start anything, but she will attempt to finish it if you start with her.
Quisha (The Millionaire—Diamonds are Forever)
Quisha is like Evermore, they are about living their own lives on their terms and not really caring what people think. She and Evermore would probably be the real friends of the group.
Jazzlyn (Born Out of Lust) #3
Jazzlyn is the oldest of the ladies and she is the hungriest for money and status. She would definitely be cutthroat for the things in life she wants. Jazzlyn would be the messiest of all the women.
In my opinion these women would not be true friends. They would hang in the same affluent circle. Most of them brought there by the men in their lives—however, Jewel is the only one who is a self-made millionaire and would possibly look down on the other women for using men for their come up.
Amazon.com: lisa marbly warir
By Lisa Marbly-Warir
originally written 2016
Disclaimer-I know talks of marriage can be a sore spot for some women. I decided for those who are interested in what I have to say can glean from the article what they want and don’t want. I know that some people are desperately trying to undermine the importance of marriage—but for some of us it is still an important institution.
I’m presently working on a book called What Your Mama Didn’t Tell You (working title)
Update~Published 8/16/2016 Sisters Can we Talk—What Our Mothers Didn’t Tell us
I would like to tackle many things I feel women are not learning or getting which is why so many are left to fend for themselves with children, or reach a certain age and want marriage but can’t find the right man. I feel men are especially spoiled today. They know they can create children and leave, shack up with a woman and promise marriage for years, knowing he has no intention of it.
Get commitment less sex and even ‘committed’ but not married sex etc. A lot of men, whether they say it or not have a 'Why buy the cow when they can get the milk for free?' attitude. He is not going to say this to the woman he is sleeping with—who may want marriage. Because for some of them it's 'If it ain't broke why
A lot of women are asking that men be the men of yesteryear—family oriented, marry them, take care of his kids—but those same women are not trying to be the women of yesteryear who for the most part had children within marriage, expected marriage, shunned men who were not husband material etc.
I often see a lot of double talk in regards to marriage (online) I actually don’t know where to start with this. It’s a subject that is beaten half to death on various geared to Black women sites I’ve visited over the years. It will continue to be beaten to death because there is never any resolution and many women are still complaining about raising kids alone, or wanting to settle down but can’t find a marriage-minded man.
I see a lot of disdain towards marriage, Black men and sometimes towards women who are wives and I often wonder is the disdain from wanting to be married but can’t find the right man to commit?
Or disdain because children are here and the father of the child(ren) refused to marry the mother?
Is it disdain because marriage is simply not important to some women?
The flip side is—many of those same women are complaining that the men they had children with (unmarried) are not stepping up to the plate of responsibility. I’ve been accused of giving men a pass and absolving them of their responsibility.
Um, no. When you as a woman have kids with a man who didn’t commit to you through marriage, you absolved him. Harsh but true.
What happened to love, marriage then baby? (Let me stop here, yes I know a man can marry you and still leave—that is a rather tired rebuttal I read a lot online. When I counter ask, what married men do you know is just up and leaving his family like that? I NEVER get an answer.
Does it mean that married men don’t leave, absolutely not, but I don’t believe they are leaving in droves the way some posters online like to believe. I’ve often said online that somewhere in time some women decided that having a husband was a waste of time, not important, all men cheat anyway the list of negativity towards marriage goes on and on and I am really baffled at the origins of it.
One media site I like to visit; most posters there know I am pro-marriage and being pro-marriage has actually gotten me called all kinds of spiteful names. And I’m like wow, so in order for a woman to be married or want marriage something has to be wrong with her? Really? The name calling also tells me it has to be something deeper within that person, to melt down over the suggestion of getting married and then having children.
I’ve also mentioned that if some women (posters in regards to that site I won’t mention) are that anti marriage online, then what are they like in real life? Is that sentiment spilling over into their relationships with men? Men, who are ultimately the ones who ask the woman for her hand in marriage. I’ve read a few articles on Black women and marriage and at times the articles contradict each other and also contradict what I see in real life.
I hear a few women who are honest enough to admit out loud that they want a husband, they want to get married. I have found that it’s almost frowned upon to admit such a thing. I can only conclude it is to save face, meaning if a woman who wants marriage never gets married she can always say ‘I never wanted to get married anyway.’
At the end of the day I don’t believe many Black women are being honest about really wanting marriage. Truly, don’t believe me, check out some of the Black social sites and pay close attention anytime marriage subjects come up they tend to turn into insults being hurled with women on different sides of the fence. ie either for marriage or not.
I believe more Black women could be married if they expected it and most importantly made choices to that affect. A lot of women want to waste their young years having children by men who never intended to be there for the long haul let alone marry them, waste their young years having this so called fun at the expense of complaining later about no good men, or all the good men are taken.
I honestly believe that if Black women and men were primed early on to revere marriage and look at marriage as a positive; more marriages would happen in our communities. Perhaps more husbands/fathers would be in the homes and stay in the homes—because it started out on a solid base (hopefully)
Some women get negative views of marriage early on from their mothers? Not only negative views, but I have also seen online some posters say that they don’t know a single, solitary happy marriage. My response is usually in-depth, but my usual go to retort is,
“So baby daddies, one night stands, friends with benefits, your “friend” is that much better than a husband?
Of course those questions are NEVER answered. At the end of the day, I believe the general consensus is, Black women do want marriage like any other woman, but so many make choices that aren’t conductive towards marriage.
I also believe that some view marriage as a death sentence, as a non-important factor to their lives and I wholeheartedly believe that is a defense mechanism. Please let me say this; for those who genuinely don’t want to be married this is not for you or about you.
By Lisa Marbly-Warir
Come on ladies, help a sister to understand. Maybe I was one of those rare girls who just didn’t see the appeal for boys who were always in trouble at school and being sent to the principal’s office. Or when you got older and your friends were messing with guys who you knew would break their hearts. But because he was a tatted up, swag walking bad ass, he was exciting to them.
I typically liked studious, reserved, especially reserved men. Whew!! it’s getting hot in here. Nerdy guys too, don’t judge me. But note these men can also be bad news. So, I don’t want anyone to think that I’m saying men who subscribe to the bad boy image can’t be a good guy or that a reserved, studious guy can’t be bad. There are exceptions to every rule.
Some girls/women never outgrow their fondness for bad boys. Nothing wrong with that, I just want other women to share the appeal of said types of men. This is just a conversation starter.
Even though I am a woman I don’t know if I can even articulate or wrap my own head around the phenomenon of bad boys. Remember Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire? He was a complete, scary jerk, yet his wife, “Stella!!” was putty in his hands.
Is it what constitutes a real man to some women? Rough? Virile? the thought of—break the headboard screaming in wild abandon sex? I mean what is it?
We all have our idea of what a real man is, and what kind of man gets our motors going. That’s why bodice ripping, arrogant bastard type heroes in romance novels are so popular.
Let’s face it, this isn’t the first time this question has come up and it won’t be the last time. There are actually studies about bad boys and why women like them. You can Google it.
I don't know if this character is an arrogant bastard or not I just wanted the image
I admit to finding bad guys in movies intriguing, sexy etc. but in real life, not so much. I know for me I like to watch a movie for escapism and I often find myself drawn to the villain for some reason and want to root for him.
I can’t even explain why. Maybe, the perception of what he can do in the bedroom. Does it boil down to sex after all? And yes something about hormones and ovaries does play a part in this. Maybe I’m ultimately answering my own question.
I even joked one day about two characters in The Walking Dead; it’s one of my favorite shows.
Shane is the guy you freak in the back seat of his car.
Rick is the nice guy you take home to meet your parents.
There is something to why women are drawn to bad guys even though in your heart of hearts you know he may be wrong for you.
Women are nurturers—we want to fix a man
As mentioned above—hormones
The promise of hot buck wild sex
The reasons are endless and I’m sure science can explain it better than I ever could.
So, what say you?
Lisa can be found on
Facebook Destinee a romance novella
by Lisa Marbly-Warir
Or not—when I write my stories I’m sometimes nervous of the presumption of some readers that because my female protagonists are Black that they will assume she is a boss bitch—cut throat, chews men up and spit them out types. And when someone who is not your target audience gets your book it can spell trouble for how your book is rated if they were expecting one kind of character but got another.
I’ve had a couple of people not care for two of my characters because they felt they weren’t strong. But as I’ve posted online before, I can’t help what my characters tell me. That may sound funny, but if you’re a writer you know this is true. You can be writing, thinking one way, but the characters say, um, no this is how it goes down.
My characters tend to be more than boss bitches, matter of fact; I wouldn’t call them boss bitches. I don’t like care for how the term bitch has been turned into a positive. It may be generational; it also depends on the environment of the women who embrace the phrase--boss bitch. I see nothing endearing about it at all but that’s just me. I know a lot of women do. Or maybe I’m just hung up on the word bitch.
A female that is extremely successful, stunting, and has plenty of power.
You see that girl over there, she's a boss bitch.
Credit to Denel June 08, 2006
Now of course boss bitch can mean different things to different women. My characters, Destinee, Jewel, Evermore etc. are strong, successful and independent women in their own right—but they would never refer to themselves as boss bitches.
But that doesn’t make them less strong because they label themselves differently. I wanted to write about women who convey strength and independence, but they are also vulnerable and insecure at times as they go through this thing called life and dealing with the men that come their way.
It’s ok to be strong and have it together; however, it is also ok to be delicate and feminine. That doesn’t take away who they are. I guess I am writing this because as mentioned above there is sometimes a misconception that all or most Black women are boss bitches especially in books, too strong to be vulnerable and even we perpetuate that perception.
Our strength comes in many different forms and I want my characters to reflect that. Thanks for reading.
Facebook Destinee Romance Novella
By Lisa Marbly-Warir
I’m going to be honest, Vegas, has never been a place that was on my bucket list. I figured if I ever went—good, if I never went, that was fine too. Thing is when you have a spouse, you have to compromise and my husband wanted to go. So I went. I always did say, however, that if I ever got the chance to go—I had to see an Elvis show. Yeah, I’m corny like that.
Forget what you see in the movies—Vegas is a place you have to see for yourself, if you ever want to go or plan to go.
I immediately started showing pictures of my trip on Facebook—and got a lot of responses from fans of Vegas, and perhaps people who hope to go one day. One of my former coworkers private messaged me to ask me questions because he’d never been and wanted to take his wife.
First things first—we landed at Mccarran International Airport 5757 Wayne Newton Blvd. I didn’t know the name of the street until I started writing this post. You’ll see many streets named after famous people—Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis and Frank Sinatra. It was easy to get a feel of what Vegas must have been like during it’s heyday with the Rat Pack, Elvis and even Redd Foxx.
My husband and I stayed at a hotel on what is considered the old Vegas Strip. I don’t want to put the hotel we stayed at on blast.
The hotel—is considered a 4 star but, my husband and I gave it 3 stars. There were a few things that took away from a full 5 star experience. The blinds were broken and maintenance was in our room for about 30 minutes fixing it. And after a long flight and a snafu at the car rental—coming to the hotel to relax an hour or so was priority and it didn’t happen right away. Then on top of it all, our bathroom sink didn’t work properly and I’m not sure if housekeeping was as thorough as they could have been.
We had a view with a mountain in the distance, it was very pretty—we certainly don’t see mountains every day in Michigan.
As a first time visit to Sin City we would do it again, only next time we will stay on the newer side of Vegas.
People watching was also fun—the characters you see are probably unlike anything you will see anywhere else, except for maybe Times Square. Though I’m sure people don’t walk around almost butt-ass naked in Times Square (sorry, didn't take any pictures of butts and other unmentionables)
I’ve never been to Times Square in the summer, so maybe some people do walk around almost naked.
Before visiting Vegas I was told food prices were high. I didn’t find them to be any higher than where I live.
Our last night in Vegas, we went to a Legends in Concert at the Flamingo Hotel and Casino. There was Elvis, Michael, Marilyn and Janis. All of the performers were pretty darn good.
We got the tickets for free after being tortured at one of those 90 minute time-share meetings. It was my 2nd time doing one and hopefully my last. Avoid them if you can—they will try to lure you off the street with promises of cash, dinner or shows. It may be worth it to some, but for me and my husband we wished we’d just bypassed them altogether. We missed some other attractions messing with them. All-in-all, first trip to Vegas was a wonderful experience and we plan to go again.
The funny thing is, when I get a book cover commissioned and I get the finished product—I love it, until I think of another way it could have been designed.
Ugh!! that's money spent that I didn't necessarily have to waste. I've spent more money on covers than I care to share. I have found a good designer and hope to keep using her for awhile.
If I could design my own covers, I would be a force to be reckoned with, but alas, graphic designing is not my forte.
You can't say I didn't try. That very first cover I designed myself and as you can see, um, no. I had to be able to compete with the big dogs and had it redesigned. The next 3 covers (the Destinee covers) you see were designed by 3 different people and the last one is my current designer.