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If fantasizing were a crime, Chakah DuBois would be locked away for life.
She’s doggedly optimistic about her career as a physical therapist, the San Francisco condo she wants, and the love life she craves. However, being big, tall, and queer isn’t easy, especially in a traditional family featuring a petite, compliant sister; a critical mother obsessed with keeping up appearances; and a doting, conservative father whose love Chakah is afraid to lose by coming out.

With a failed engagement already on her rap sheet, even Chakah’s best friend has found her guilty of being naïve enough to long for unconditional, unbridled love with a person of any gender. Undeterred by naysayers, or the fact she has had to settle for fantasies instead of dates recently, Chakah continues to put her best foot forward.

Things begin to look up once she lands a plum home care assignment with Griffin Gray, the front man of her favorite band whose songs were the soundtrack of her most romantic imaginings, and his injured wife Luz, a bisexual fetish photographer whose unconventional ways have made their marriage as passionate as it is troubled. In the couple, Chakah glimpses a consuming love for which she would gladly serve a life sentence. She becomes close with kindred spirit Luz, which leads to intimacy with both husband and wife.

When the Grays offer her a chance to experience her fantasies, Chakah gambles on having the time of her life with the sexy, wealthy couple, and loses her heart in the process.

Is a three-way relationship worth being branded a wanton woman in the eyes of her family and friends, or would unraveling the social norms that bind her finally give Chakah the happiness she seeks?

Either way, Chakah is letting it all hang Loose.
 

Chatting with authors Drea Riley and Milana Howard about books, romance and shenanigans!

Please join authors Savannah J. Frierson and BJ Thornton as they discuss Loose withDrea Riley and Milana Howard of The Drea and Milana Show! Air date and time is Saturday, July 19, 2014 at 6pm CST/7pm EST. Remember to get your eBook copy now at Amazon.com! A print release will be coming soon!

Southern born and bred, Rosalyn Greer has worked too hard for too long to let an old flame stop her rise to the top of New York’s PR world. But when Iolan “Patrick” Monahan returns to her life after a five-year hiatus as her new client, she feels as if she’s falling without a net.

Irish-American Patrick Monahan had all but pushed Rosalyn out of his bed and door when she’d refused to take their relationship to the next level. Nevertheless, she’d not budged a centimeter from his heart. Now that she’s back as his software company’s biggest advocate, Patrick is determined to convince Rosalyn he will be there to catch her if she’d just take the chance.

Will Rosalyn be able to trust the fall, or will caution keep her tethered to the ground?

Coming Tuesday, August 19, 2014 - Check out the sneak peek here!

Trust Fall by Savannah J. Frierson

Southern born and bred, Rosalyn Greer has worked too hard for too long to let an old flame stop her rise to the top of New York’s PR world. But when Iolan “Patrick” Monahan returns to her life after a five-year hiatus as her new client, she feels as if she’s falling without a net.

Irish-American Patrick Monahan had all but pushed Rosalyn out of his bed and door when she’d refused to take their relationship to the next level. Nevertheless, she’d not budged a centimeter from his heart. Now that she’s back as his software company’s biggest advocate, Patrick is determined to convince Rosalyn he will be there to catch her if she’d just take the chance.

Will Rosalyn be able to trust the fall, or will caution keep her tethered to the ground?

Get your copy today!

Loose is now in print! Get your copy here at Createspace e-store! Listings on major online distributors will be updated in days and weeks to come!

Also, if you missed the Drea & Milana Show on July 19, 2014, a podcast of the interview is available here. Unfortunately, Be was unable to join, but it is about an hour long. Thanks very much to Drea and Milana for the interview!

According to Romance Writers of America, the romance genre must 1.) have a central love story and 2.) emotionally satisfying ending. Another element, though often taken for granted, is a romance offers an escape from the pressures of every day life, where the reader can become immersed in a story where love conquers everything no matter what obstacles the hero and heroine face. To be honest, the reason why many people read romances is the very reason why I write the stories I do. I can create a space where women who look like me and were similar to me in various ways could find a love that seemed elusive in real life. Every heroine I’d written so far possessed a flaw of mine, and she would be my escape to where it would be all right; I’d have permission to have this flaw and I’d be loved anyway. And while Loose is most certainly a love story, writing Chakah DuBois didn’t allow for that type of escape for me. In fact, writing her meant writing directly to and from my heart, revealing some of my deepest fears and my most secret dreams, ones I hadn’t even known I held until I’d seen them reflected in Chakah’s narrative. Writing Chakah and Loose left me exposed, raw, vulnerable - uncomfortably so at times - but it also left me open to receive a new optimism about what could and should be for people and love, irrespective of color, gender, size, sexual orientation, or any of the other categories into which people fall. This crafting journey meant examining my own expectations and biases, stretching and flexing my characterization and storytelling muscles, and learning how to maintain the integrity of the work with someone else. Releasing Loose as my first full-length novel in five years written with a fantastic coauthor is the perfect way to commemorate said journey.

A typical romance doesn’t generally allow for true depth in character. The plot bends and unfolds around the main characters in a way that they are usually fighting against external obstacles, not internal ones. The characters in a typical romance may have to do some soul searching as they find their way to that Happily Ever After, but rarely does soul working get done. In this way, Loose isn’t a typical romance and Chakah in particular isn’t a typical heroine, which meant I couldn’t write her or this project the way I typically could. Here was a young woman who, like me, is fat, Black, and yearns to be loved for the fullness of her instead of piecemeal. And that Chakah finds not just one, but two dynamic people who see Chakah for all she is and revel in her is exactly what I want, and yet exactly what I’m afraid I would never experience myself. Chakah represents an accessibility to love I’d not really anticipated when I’d first started writing her. I’d also not anticipated that accessing this love meant crafting her motivations, hurts, joys, sorrows - soul moves - which meant having to access mine as well; but there was much I didn’t want to face. (x)

Learn more about Be and her crafting of the Grays here. Get excited! Only one more month until Loose arrives!

LOOSE Q&A - Day 2

Q: Any plans for a continuation of Loose?

A general rule I have for my solo projects is I like to give the book its due moment, and to give myself a break from engaging that particular book’s characters and head/emotional space.  I find the time away helps me revisit the book with much fresher eyes and an enhanced perspective that wasn’t there/couldn’t be there during the initial round of the book, which would aid in the crafting of the continuation. Also, for me anyway, the characters generally let me know if they even want a continuation, or what kind.  Some of them don’t; some want just a short story; and some want a full-length work. It simply depends.

As for Loose, who knows what these characters will call for, but I could see Griffin being a worrywart over a pregnant Chakah, just as he’d been over Luz during her injury. He’s also completely doting and ready to whip up whatever craving she has no matter the time - up to and including leaving some pre-prepared/frozen in the fridge if he can’t be there because of gigs. He does cancel gigs/appearances when Chakah enters her third trimester, though, because no way in hell is he missing this for some damn band. In fact, he’ll have to compromise keeping up his appearances and commitments for the first two trimesters, since both Luz and Chakah adamantly disagree with him cancelling everything for Chakah’s whole pregnancy.

Luz will make sure nothing but the best is available for Chakah and the DuBois-Gray baby - up to and including reserving a swagged-out birthing suite at the hospital full of positive energy. She would search out the best midwife for Chakah since Chakah would prefer a natural birth and but Griffin wants to make sure all the best doctors are available at a moment’s notice.  Luz would also help Chakah find kick-ass maternity ensembles for Chakah to wear and appropriately distract Griffin from his worry when it becomes too overwhelming (or, more often than not, she’ll just invite Chakah to pack a bag and stay over at the loft for a few days and Griffin can come by once he’s chilled the hell out).

I could see Griffin and Luz completely loving all over Chakah and her body when she starts feeling some kind of way with how big and awkward she’s getting, or anxious about being a good parent, like Griffin drawing her a bath and Luz filling the tub with her favorite salts and bubbles, then Luz cradles Chakah as Griffin rubs her down and cleans/soothes her.

I can also see Chakah helping Luz with her photography especially, helping Luz choose the best shots for clients or being a stand-in so Luz can get the lighting right or test out concepts Luz would like to try.  I can also see Chakah vetting Griffin’s new songs and singing her excitement and praises over the phone right before he goes on stage or has a big interview.  And I see at least a commitment ceremony in Chakah’s future, with Minnie and Davis babysitting if the baby’s been born by then, and the lovers will honeymoon on some secreted isle where clothes are not only optional, but actively discouraged.

Keep the questions coming!

LOOSE Q&A - Day 8 (Bonus)

I’d actually wanted to include this song in my Discovering Chakah essay, but I couldn’t figure out how to fit it.  So, for this last Q&A day, I decided to let it have its own post.

Whenever I hear this song, it never fails to put me in a good mood.  It’s also how I think Chakah has always approached life, too, but especially now that she has her loves. I think, along with Chakah’s signature pose, this is the song she hums in her head whenever she makes public appearances with Griffin or anything possibly negative appears in the media about her, Griffin, or Luz.  She is happy, completely so, and there is nothing anyone could say to bring her down from the high of loving and being loved by Griffin and Luz.  In fact, if a reporter or someone tries to bring her down, I can see her playing the song in her head and doing a little shoulder shimmy before answering as diplomatically as she can.  I can also see both Griffin and Luz grinning when she does that, because they know what she’s doing and why.

This isn’t to say she doesn’t sing and dance to the song when she’s in a good mood, though.  The number of times Griffin and/or Luz have caught her breaking it down to the song at home are innumerous!  I can see Griffin rearranging the song for The Gray Hats to perform every now and again during a set, especially if Chakah requests it during their Skype calls when he’s on the road and she’s missing him.  I can also see Luz getting one of her producer buddies to do a cumbia mix so she can dance to it in her loft.

Chakah the character may have her own personal theme song, but whenever I hear “Happy”, Chakah can’t help but come to my mind.

Thanks for joining me on this Q&A week!  I’ve appreciated the support!

LOOSE Q&A - Day 7 (Bonus)

Many times, readers ask me who my inspiration was when conceiving characters.  In terms of Chakah, particularly in her appearance, Be and I knew we wanted her to be a big, dark-skinned Black woman with natural hair.  The challenge, however, was looking for images that would represent this character in terms of possible covers, trailers, and other promo materials.  The lack of representation of a woman who looked like Chakah on stock image sites reinforced the importance of having her as a central character of a full love story.  Thought we may not find her represented in the stock image sites (and thus, the general media), she will be represented and celebrated in our novel.

We started writing Loose before Orange Is the New Black debuted on Netflix, but show’s release meant the introduction to Danielle Brooks, and I couldn’t be happier.  Ms. Brooks looks like how we’d envisioned Chakah almost to a tee, from her dark skin, her height, and her voluptuous body - even her hair! Doubly exciting is being introduced to an actress on a show where diverse women’s stories are being told - stories that aren’t generally told in broad-reaching media.  

To have an accessible visual representation of the types of heroines I write in the media is affirming, and I hope that means more women who break from the extremely narrow definition of who is allowed to be a lovable heroine will be able to get their due shine.  And if for nothing else, I’m going to need more stock photo options!

LOOSE Q&A - Day 1

Good afternoon, readers! Here’s Day 1 of Q&A with Loose! Right now, I have just enough questions to answer about one a day, so that’s the plan unless I get more as the week progresses.  Some of the questions I had to laugh and some really made me think, so thanks to you all! You’re also welcome to ask follow questions if the spirit moves. :)

All right, time for the first one!

Q: Do you plan to write more books that incorporate kink in the plot in the future?

The current projects I have been working on not Loose related do not include kink as an activity, but that doesn’t mean a kinky character couldn’t knock on my noggin and request I tell their story. It would require me to be responsible while telling that story, however, as I am more a vanilla/traditional person than a kinky person and we all have our preferences/biases.  Anything I would write in the future I want to make sure it is fair and honest to kinky characters and people.

Nevertheless, what writing this novel has made me more aware of is how I want to write heroines who are more assured of themselves and their personal boundaries and communicating that, as well as recognizing and respecting those of the people with whom they are in relationships. Communication and consent are explicit and imperative in kink, and that inspired me to make sure my heroines, particularly, are present and active in the decisions they make and take ownership of how they feel and how to express that, rather than only taking their cues from outside elements.

Luz was the most obvious about establishing and reinforcing her boundaries; and she also makes sure to honor and respect the boundaries of her lovers too. Chakah has to maintain personal as well as physical boundaries, but she struggles.  Being a physical therapist, her calling is to heal and fix. Between Luz and her best friend Briggs, especially, Chakah learns to recognize how that desire to fix others could, at times, become intrusive and step over bounds. I’m glad we were able to explore that in these two women - Luz who lives a kink lifestyle and Chakah who doesn’t - and how they learned and grew from each other.

Happy Earth Day! A great way to celebrate the day is by going out and buying the eBook Loose! :) Also, I’ll be answering any questions about Loose publicly on Tumblr April 23 - April 30, but you’re welcome to continue submitting questions through then as well.

Happy reading and thank you so much for the support! It really means a lot!

Hello, readers! First off - thank you so much for the support for Loose! It’s so very appreciated! So, as my co-author Be did in the week before, I’m opening my ask box to questions about Loose. It can be about the process, the inspirations, trivia - whatever tickles your fancy! I’ll start answering the questions publicly April 23 - April 30.

Happy reading!

LOOSE Q&A - Day 5

Q: Are you anxious about the reception?

Yes! With any book I release I’m always anxious about how it’ll be received.  When you put so much into your work and you believe in it so much, you’re hoping the audience sees that effort and appreciates it, and gets it. I recognize people expect certain types of stories from me packaged in certain ways, and this story is a bit outside of the package. However, Loose is a love story about a big, black woman who dares to aspire for the love she deserves instead of settling for a love society thinks she should have. All of my novels are variations of that particular theme. Telling this story in the context of a three-way relationship and Chakah being queer doesn’t negate that.  In fact, I consider Loose a 21st-century conversation of the very themes I discuss in Being Plumville—being who you are and being able to love who you love and how you are able to love free of recrimination and judgment instead of falling in line with society’s status quo.  I will always be an advocate of that. I certainly hope readers will be on board with me too.

Please feel free to submit more questions too!

LOOSE Q&A - Day 4

Q: What made you move in this direction? 

 I don’t consider writing Loose so much a “move” in terms of what kinds of stories I tell but rather an expansion of who is included in those love stories.  It’s always been a mission of mine to write love stories that champion Black women, particularly those of size, and Loose is an example of a heroine I hadn’t yet explored.  Chakah being a queer woman of color and falling in love with more than one partner is unique from my other heroines since they are not queer and they are in traditional, monogamous relationships.  On the other hand, Chakah is still very much like my other heroines in that she wants a full, complete love and to be committed to someone who will love her entire self, not just the parts they can like or tolerate. Chakah simply finds these things outside of a traditionally structured relationship.

Writing Chakah’s story required a more mature and fully honest storytelling, and I hope to continue reinforce this with my growth as an author and a person. It will require me as an author to be more open with myself and that will allow for my characters to be more open as well.  Loose helped me hone my ability to go directly into the heart of the matter for my characters and the stories they’re trying to tell—which will certainly serve me well when crafting my more traditional love stories too. By doing so, I hope the stories will resonate even more with those who read the books and they will enjoy the reading experience even more.

Loose Q&A - Day 3

Q: How did it feel to do this?

How did it feel to work on Loose? It felt like something I needed to do, honestly. It felt like growth and a learning process. It felt like a challenge I needed to have, and one I think that has set me on the path of the kinds of heroines and stories I want to write about in the future, namely stories and characters who express the fullness of themselves and take ownership in their truths.  Loose required me to go deeper than I ever had, and to really unpack a lot of biases that I had in terms of my writing, the kinds of traits and behaviors I allow my characters to have, and how love looks and is expressed.  It made me sit back and analyze why certain tropes are the way they are in love stories and romances, and then think about the consequences of those tropes and if they allow the characters to feel the full breadth of their emotions and own their right to have them, and their place to express them. Also, it made me examine if I’ve been too narrow by only having certain types of characters gain visible, celebrated access to full love.  It was also the first time I wrote characters who were very distinct from me—particularly in owning their self-esteem and worth, and being strong in terms of their agency and boundaries. Every character had its own through-line; and that isn’t to say all of my other characters didn’t, but this love story, every character’s arc and journey was something that had to be addressed before the characters could get the love they wanted, needed, and required.

Also, working with a coauthor enabled me to better recognize where my strengths and weaknesses as an author are, and how to meld two different styles of writing into a work that represents the both of us.

Honestly, I feel accomplished and proud of what I’ve produced with my coauthor Be.  I feel I’ve learned so much about myself from this process and I’m on the path to the kind of person and writer I want to be—one who does her best to be inclusive and accessible for as many women as I can.