Saturday, February 25, 2006

February is Black History Month

This is the perfect month to celebrate the recent launch of Kimani Press at Harlequin. Many African-American women are romance readers and long-standing fans of women’s fiction and the romance genre—things that are very dear to my heart. So it is very special to have such a stellar collection of African-American romance and women’s fiction authors and stories make their new home with Harlequin and to know that those readers are going to find more of the kind of stories they love within Harlequin Enterprises.

Kimani—like Harlequin—is romance, and a whole lot more. Kimani consists of four imprints, which I’m just going to list out and explain for the purpose of clarity, because there’s quite a lot of variety.

Arabesque: Nationally known as the leading line of African-American romances, Arabesque novels are sophisticated and sexy, featuring the best in traditional and contemporary romance.

Sepia: Contemporary women’s fiction. Capturing the core of the African-American experience, Sepia novels feature a vast variety of story lines.

New Spirit: Inspirational fiction and motivational non-fiction. Stories that explore lifes struggles and the path to reconciliation by todays bestselling African-American authors.

Kimani Romance: This will be a brand new four title per month romance series—which is something quite unique and special on the publishing scene—it’s launching this July with noteworthy favorites as well as fresh new voices.

Kimani is already a part our Community, (of course!), but not everyone has their finger on the pulse, you know. Just to give you a bit of past history—because it’s important to remember and celebrate our roots—Kimani Press was previously known as BET Books. BET Books was originally created in 1998 when Black Entertainment Television purchased Arabesque, a line of original African-American romance novels—which just celebrated their 10th Anniversary last year!

Mr. Romance I also wanted to give you a sneak peek at the July launch line-up of Kimani Romance. There will be brand- new titles from Gwynne Forster, Marcia King-Gamble, Gwyneth Bolton and the cover of USA Today best-selling author Brenda Jackson's SOLID SOUL will have the winner of Oxygen’s Mr. Romance contest!

Cover Image of Solid Soul Randy Ritchwood, a truck driver from East Orange, NJ, beat out 11 other competitors to win the first ever 2005 Mr. Romance crown in the Oxygen man-pageant reality series created by Gene Simmons of KISS. Randy (his prize included 2 Harlequin cover shoots) will appear on Brenda Jackson’s new romance SOLID SOUL.

I was lucky enough to have Linda Gill, General Manager of Kimani Press stop by to visit when she was in New York recently—she’s a truly remarkable and lovely woman with a passion for what she does…and with a very busy schedule! She’s on the road a lot, and divides her time between the New York and Washington, D.C. metropolitan areas as well as frequent visits to Harlequins home office in Toronto, Canada. She said that whenever she meets a long term couple, she wants to know how they met and how they keep their love alive. She clearly knows that all relationships—not just romantic ones, but even the author editor relationship in creating books —need to be nurtured in order to last and to grow.

Linda said that this February, Black History month had a special poignancy for her, with the passing of two great African-American women who have transformed our world, Rosa Parks and Coretta Scott King. These are truly inspirational women.


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