Behind BRUISE

Bruise

Kennedy Ryan shares a special post on the inspiration behind “Bruise,” the original piece written for her latest release Grip.

(Scroll to the end for the full poem & a signed paperback giveaway.)

Am I all of your fears, wrapped in black skin?”

The cursor flashed a warning at the end of the line I’d just typed. Read on its own, the words seared the page, an incendiary challenge. A jagged line in the sand that could shove half my readers to one side, and half to the other. I needed to be careful. I wanted to be fearless. I had to be honest.

The hero of Grip, my latest release, Marlon James (Grip to his fans), is a rising hip-hop star, but he’s more than that. He’s a lyricist and a poet. He’s a black man, concerned about black men vulnerable to cops who should be protecting them. He admires officers who run toward danger when most of us run away.

He wonders what he can do to bridge the gap between the two.

I took several risks writing Grip, confronting, in the context of a love story,  prejudices that are often blatant, but sometimes remain hidden even from ourselves. No issue weighed heavier on my mind than that of black v. blue. In the story, Grip gets stopped DWB. Driving While Black, for those unfamiliar. Probably somewhere else in mainstream romance, readers have sat behind the wheel in a black hero’s perspective, glanced in the rearview mirror, seen those blue lights flashing, and wrestled with the fear, frustration and anger born from years of being stopped for no reason…but I haven’t read it. And as I wrote it, I remembered my own husband’s accounts of being stopped most of his life; of him and his friends lying on their stomachs on the ground while their cars were searched. I recalled the first-hand accounts I’d read of black and Hispanic men, even in the last few months in LA, Grip’s hometown, stopped and searched so much more than their counterparts. But I also thought of my friend’s husband, a good cop, a good man who faced down fear every day to protect people like me. Of her anxiety when tragedy strikes, when travesties happen. Incidents that I watch on television from the safety of my couch while her husband wades knee-deep into danger.

I wanted to tell both sides of this story. I didn’t want to debate or persuade. I wanted readers to listen; to hear the other perspective. To consider. To understand. To empathize. These are the building blocks of resolution. Our country is more divided than we’ve been in a long time, and many of those divisions still, sadly still, fall along the lines of race. I don’t know how we resolve anything in this current climate. I don’t think we do unless we exchange perspectives; manage to communicate with one another in lower decibels, in reasonable thoughts, in something besides shouty caps on Facebook and Twitter.

In Flow, the prequel to Grip, Bristol, the heroine says, “...before we say our words, they’re ammunition. After we’ve said them, they’re smoking bullets. There seems to be no middle ground and too little common ground for dialogue to be productive. We just tiptoe around things, afraid we’ll offend or look ignorant, be misunderstood. Honesty is a risk few are willing to take.”

And yet it  requires honesty, and giving each other grace to speak with candor and respect, even if sometimes ineloquently. It requires that we step into the other’s shoes. Usually, we are not all right or all wrong. We are more nuanced than that; the issues more complex than black and white.

Or in this case, black and blue.

This story models that, I hope. In my small corner of the world, with the only tools at my disposal, my pen and my voice, I hope I demonstrated that. I hope someone on one side of that jagged line in the sand understood the person across from them a little better after reading GRIP. This wasn’t about my personal outrage; my indignation as I watched black men gunned down this summer during traffic stops. It wasn’t about my horrified grief as I watched cops in Dallas ambushed, killed. It wasn’t just about either, and it was completely about both. One of my favorite communicators says sometimes we choose between making a point and making a difference. I really hope, in some small way, the words to “Bruise,” the original piece I co-wrote with a spoken word artist for this book, volley right past just making a point, and manage to make a small difference, even if the only difference is that one person chooses to listen and tries to understand. There are so many other things I could say; so many statistics I could cite to sway you to one side or the other. But instead, I’ll let “Bruise” speak for itself.

And for those on both sides of that jagged line in the sand.

For more on the role of race in Grip, check out Mara White’s piece in The Huffington Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/58b96fd5e4b0fa65b844b200

Signed paperbacks of GRIP & FLOW, the prequel, are up for grabs on Kennedy’s Facebook page!

ENTER HERE

https://www.facebook.com/KennedyRyanAuthor/photos/a.502447269864442.1073741828.438681796240990/1186068878168941/?type=3&theater

“BRUISE”

Copyright (c) Kennedy Ryan, 2017

Am I all of your fears, wrapped in black skin,

Driving something foreign, windows with black tint

Handcuffed on the side of the road, second home for black men

Like we don’t have a home that we trying to get back to when

PoPo pulls me over with no infractions,

Under the speed limit, seat belt even fastened,

Turned on Rosecrans when two cruisers collapsed in

Barking orders, yeah, this that Cali harassment

Guns drawn, neighbors looking from front lawns and windows

I know cops got it hard, don’t wanna make a wife a widow

But they act like I ain’t paying taxes, like your boy ain’t a citizen

They think I’m riding filthy, like I’m guilty pleading innocence.

They say it’s ‘Protect & Serve’, but check my word

Sunny skies, ghetto birds overhead stress your nerves,

They say if you ain’t doin’ wrong, you got nothin’ to fear,

But the people sayin’ that, they can’t be livin’ here . . .

We all BRUISE,

It’s that black and blue

A dream deferred,

Nightmare come true

In another man’s shoes,

Walk a mile or two

Might learn a couple things

I’m no different than you!

 

You call for the good guys when you meet the bad men,

I’m wearing a blue shield and I still feel the reactions

When I patrol the block, I can sense dissatisfaction

There’s distrust, resentment in every interaction,

Whether the beat cop, lieutenant, sergeant or the captain

We roll our sleeves up and we dig our hands in

I joined the force in order to make a difference,

Swore to uphold the law, protect men, women and children,

These life and death situations, we make split-second decisions

All for low pay, budget cutbacks and restrictions

We’re ambushed in Dallas, now where’s all the chatter

Gunned down in Baton Rouge, don’t blue lives need to matter?

Not just a job—it’s a calling, a vocation,

My wife’s up late pacin’, for my safety—she’s praying,

And yet you call me racist? You wanna trap me with your phone?

I’m just a man with a badge trying my best to make it home.

We all BRUISE,

It’s that black and blue

A dream deferred,

Nightmare come true

In another man’s shoes,

Walk a mile or two

Might learn a couple things

I’m no different than you!

Buy GRIP

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2lKfZVt

Amazon Universal: myBook.to/GetAGrip

Free in KU!

Join the Discussion Group once you’re done: http://bit.ly/2m8xEqf

Check out the TEESPRING Campaign: https://teespring.com/GetGripped

Listen to the playlist on iTunes: http://apple.co/2lWI9ur

Listen to the playlist on Spotify: http://bit.ly/2lWrHdS

 

“The story reads like a movie . . powerful and intoxicating … and sinfully sexy. GRIP has everything—dynamic characters, soulful plot, and a lesson at the end that will change the way you look at life. One of my favorite reads this year. Maybe ever. 5 massive, gripping stars from me!”  Adriana Lock, USA Today Bestselling Author

 

About GRIP:

Resisting an irresistible force wears you down and turns you out.

I know.

I’ve been doing it for years.

I may not have a musical gift of my own, but I’ve got a nose for talent and an eye for the extraordinary.

And Marlon James – Grip to his fans – is nothing short of extraordinary.

Years ago, we strung together a few magical nights, but I keep those memories in a locked drawer and I’ve thrown away the key.

All that’s left is friendship and work.

He’s on the verge of unimaginable fame, all his dreams poised to come true.

I manage his career, but I can’t seem to manage my heart.

It’s wild, reckless, disobedient.

And it remembers all the things I want to forget.

Download Flow, the prequel to GRIP, TOTALLY FREE!

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2lAhSSC

Read on WATTPAD: http://w.tt/2kUo8Yk

About FLOW:

In 8 years, Marlon James will be one of the brightest rising stars in the music industry.

Bristol Gray will be his tough, no-nonsense manager.

But when they first meet, she’s a college student finding her way in the world,

and he’s an artist determined to make his way in it.

From completely different worlds,

all the things that should separate them only draw them closer.

It’s a beautiful beginning, but where will the story end?

 

FLOW is the prequel chronicling the week of magical days and nights that will haunt Grip & Bristol for years to come.

Add STILL (Grip #2) to your TBR:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34642932-still

 

About the Author:

Kennedy loves to write about herself in third person. She loves Diet Coke…though she’s always trying to quit. She adores her husband…who she’ll never quit. She loves her son, who is the most special boy on the planet. And she’s devoted to supporting and serving families living with Autism.

And she writes love stories!

Facebook:  http://facebook.com/KennedyRyanAuthor

Book Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/681604768593989/

Bookbub:  https://www.bookbub.com/authors/kennedy-ryan

Amazon:  http://amzn.to/2jTjDuU

Twitter: @Kennedyrwrites

Instagram:  @kennedyryan1

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Google +:  http://plus.google.com/u/0/+KennedyRyanAuthor/posts

Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/kennedyryan/

GRIP by Kennedy Ryan is LIVE!

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Flow, the prequel to GRIP, by Kennedy Ryan is now live and TOTALLY FREE!

And GRIP, the riveting full-length conclusion, is LIVE!

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY on Kennedy’s Page!
www.facebook.com/KennedyRyanAuthor

“The story reads like a movie . . powerful and intoxicating … and sinfully sexy. GRIP has everything—dynamic characters, soulful plot, and a lesson at the end that will change the way you look at life. One of my favorite reads this year. Maybe ever. 5 massive, gripping stars from me!” — Adriana Lock, USA Today Bestselling Author

grip-ebook

NOW LIVE!

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2lKfZVt
Amazon Universal: myBook.to/GetAGrip

Check out the playlist on iTunes: http://apple.co/2lWI9ur
Check out the playlist on Spotify: http://bit.ly/2lWrHdS

JOIN THE SPOILER ROOM AFTER YOU FINISH! http://bit.ly/2m8xEqf

grip_teaser1

Blurb:

Resisting an irresistible force wears you down and turns you out.
I know.
I’ve been doing it for years.
I may not have a musical gift of my own, but I’ve got a nose for talent and an eye for the extraordinary.
And Marlon James – Grip to his fans – is nothing short of extraordinary.
Years ago, we strung together a few magical nights, but I keep those memories in a locked drawer and I’ve thrown away the key.
All that’s left is friendship and work.
He’s on the verge of unimaginable fame, all his dreams poised to come true.
I manage his career, but I can’t seem to manage my heart.
It’s wild, reckless, disobedient.
And it remembers all the things I want to forget.

flow-ebook

GRAB IT NOW FOR FREE!

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2lAhSSC
iBooks: http://apple.co/2mkAG88
Nook: http://bit.ly/2lNxZyo
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2lvKqOQ
Available on WATTPAD: http://w.tt/2kUo8Yk

“Ryan continues her streak of amazingly accessible and authentic romantic fiction. Grip is a bold and unapologetic look at interracial romance and does not shy away from any of the ideals and prejudices that most of us are too polite to acknowledge – head on- amidst one of the sexiest, and most provocative true love romances Ryan has penned to date. Break out the fans folks, Grip is aptly titled and sure to make you need a grip! — Sheena, Smexy Books

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Blurb:

In 8 years, Marlon James will be one of the brightest rising stars in the music industry.
Bristol Gray will be his tough, no-nonsense manager.
But when they first meet, she’s a college student finding her way in the world,
and he’s an artist determined to make his way in it.
From completely different worlds,
all the things that should separate them only draw them closer.
It’s a beautiful beginning, but where will the story end?

FLOW is the prequel chronicling the week of magical days and nights

that will haunt Grip & Bristol for years to come.

GRIP is the full-length conclusion of their story available NOW here: http://kennedyryanwrites.com/grip/

About the Author:

Kennedy loves to write about herself in third person. She loves Diet Coke…though she’s always trying to quit. She adores her husband…who she’ll never quit. She loves her son, who is the most special boy on the planet. And she’s devoted to supporting and serving families living with Autism.

And she writes love stories!

For updates, new releases, giveaways and other adventures, subscribe to her newsletter: https://app.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/j9u8i3

You can learn more at:
Facebook | Book Group | Bookbub | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Google +| Pinterest | Amazon

RELEASE BLITZ of FLOW by Kennedy Ryan!

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Flow, the prequel to GRIP, by Kennedy Ryan is now live and TOTALLY FREE!

And pre-order GRIP, the riveting full-length conclusion, while it’s only 99c! Goes up to regular price $3.99 on release day, March 2!

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY for a $50 GIFT CARD!
www.facebook.com/KennedyRyanAuthor

“Flow is the intro to an epic love song. It’s that first beat that has you stopping in your tacks and turning up the volume. The perfect cadence to a must-read prelude. 5 on top of the world stars!” -Mandi Beck, Bestselling Author of the Caged Love series and Stoned.

flow-ebook

GRAB IT NOW FOR FREE!

Available on WATTPAD: http://w.tt/2kUo8Yk

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2lAhSSC
iBooks: http://apple.co/2mkAG88
Nook: http://bit.ly/2lNxZyo
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2lvKqOQ

“Ryan continues her streak of amazingly accessible and authentic romantic fiction. Grip is a bold and unapologetic look at interracial romance and does not shy away from any of the ideals and prejudices that most of us are too polite to acknowledge – head on- amidst one of the sexiest, and provocative true love romances Ryan has penned to date. Break out the fans folks, Grip is aptly titled and sure to make you need a grip! — Sheena, Smexy Books

g-quote1

Blurb:

In 8 years, Marlon James will be one of the brightest rising stars in the music industry.
Bristol Gray will be his tough, no-nonsense manager.
But when they first meet, she’s a college student finding her way in the world,
and he’s an artist determined to make his way in it.
From completely different worlds,
all the things that should separate them only draw them closer.
It’s a beautiful beginning, but where will the story end?

FLOW is the prequel chronicling the week of magical days and nights

that will haunt Grip & Bristol for years to come.

GRIP is the full-length conclusion of their story available March 2 here: http://kennedyryanwrites.com/grip/

grip-ebook

Don’t miss out on preordering GRIP – only 99c until release day when it goes up to $3.99!

PREORDER NOW: http://amzn.to/2lKfZVt

grip_teaser1

Blurb:

Resisting an irresistible force wears you down and turns you out.
I know.
I’ve been doing it for years.
I may not have a musical gift of my own, but I’ve got a nose for talent and an eye for the extraordinary.
And Marlon James – Grip to his fans – is nothing short of extraordinary.
Years ago, we strung together a few magical nights, but I keep those memories in a locked drawer and I’ve thrown away the key.
All that’s left is friendship and work.
He’s on the verge of unimaginable fame, all his dreams poised to come true.
I manage his career, but I can’t seem to manage my heart.
It’s wild, reckless, disobedient.
And it remembers all the things I want to forget.

About the Author:

Kennedy loves to write about herself in third person. She loves Diet Coke…though she’s always trying to quit. She adores her husband…who she’ll never quit. She loves her son, who is the most special boy on the planet. And she’s devoted to supporting and serving families living with Autism.

And she writes love stories!

For updates, new releases, giveaways and other adventures, subscribe to her newsletter: https://app.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/j9u8i3

You can learn more at:
Facebook | Book Group | Bookbub | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Google +| Pinterest | Amazon

GRIP by Kennedy Ryan

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“I can’t stop thinking about this book…One of my favorite reads this year. Maybe ever. Kennedy Ryan took some of the most complex issues of our time and made them poetic, insightful, and deliciously sexy…5 massive, gripping stars!” – USA TODAY Bestselling Author, Adriana Locke

Keep reading for an EXCERPT of Grip by Kennedy Ryan
FLOW releases on February 25 and will be totally FREE!
GRIP releases on March 2nd straight to #KindleUnlimited!

➡Add GRIP on GR: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31207572-grip
➡Get #GRIPPED (Be notified by email about cover reveal & release):
https://app.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/s5e6j4
➡Check out more information here: http://kennedyryanwrites.com/grip/

grip-ebook1

GRIP Synopsis:

Resisting an irresistible force wears you down and turns you out.
I know.
I’ve been doing it for years.
I may not have a musical gift of my own, but I’ve got a nose for talent and an eye for the extraordinary.
And Marlon James – Grip to his fans – is nothing short of extraordinary.
Years ago, we strung together a few magical nights, but I keep those memories in a locked drawer and I’ve thrown away the key.
All that’s left is friendship and work.
He’s on the verge of unimaginable fame, all his dreams poised to come true.
I manage his career, but I can’t seem to manage my heart.
It’s wild, reckless, disobedient.
And it remembers all the things I want to forget.

grip_teaser5

************************************************************

flow-ebook1

FLOW (The GRIP Prequel) – Releasing FREE a few days before GRIP!

In 8 years, Marlon James will be one of the brightest rising stars in the music industry.
Bristol Gray will be his tough, no-nonsense manager.
But when they first meet, she’s a college student finding her way in the world,
and he’s an artist determined to make his way in it.
From completely different worlds,
all the things that should separate them only draw them closer.
It’s a beautiful beginning, but where will the story end?

FLOW is the prequel chronicling the week of magical days and nights that will haunt Grip & Bristol for years to come.

GRIP is the full-length conclusion of their story.

grip_teaser1

EXCERPT:

I wanted to keep this pain locked away, private. Until now. Until Grip. His eyes rest on my face. I feel his compassion, and it weighs so much I want out from under it. I turn my head to escape the honesty between us for a few seconds. Just for a reprieve. As soon as I look over the side, I realize my mistake.

“Oh, God. We’re so high.”

Breath charges up my throat, panic pushing out the last few minutes of peace. My heart jackhammers. Blood rushes to my head, and the world spins. I grip my head to make it stop.

“Hey, hey.” Grip scoots closer, eliminating the distance between us. “Put your head down as far as you can.”

The safety bar keeps me from putting my head between my knees, but I don’t think it would help anyway. Nothing helps. It’s irrational. I know I’m safe, but fear mocks me and makes me its bitch. I hate it, but I can’t stop it.

“My mom used to tell me to recite things,” Grip says from above me. “Like to distract myself when I was scared. To give me something else to focus on.”

It only makes me more anxious that I have nothing I can recite. Fear jumbles all my thoughts together, so discombobulated that I can’t even assemble the digits of my phone number.

“I can’t think of anything.”

“Okay. Hold up.” He rubs my back in soothing strokes that don’t soothe. “I’ll do it. Just listen to my voice. Focus on what I’m saying.”

I can’t focus. I can’t stop the encroaching darkness, blurring my edges and knotting my interior. It’s never been this bad, and it would happen right in front of Grip.

“I’ll recite “Poetry” by Pablo Neruda. My favorite actually.” Grip’s voice is warm but disembodied as I press my eyes closed. “It feels like he was writing my life story. Like he knew there would be this kid who needed something bigger than himself, and he wrote this to guide that kid to a different path. This has always felt like more than a poem. It’s personal. It feels like my prophecy.”

The emotion, the honesty in his voice compels me to hazard a glance at him. In the faint light of the moon and the bright lights of the carnival, I see his face. Beautiful and bronzed, a sculpture of bold bones and full lips. His eyes are intent, never looking away from mine as he begins.

His deep voice caresses Neruda’s sentiments of how poetry called him from the street and away from violence. Of how writing saved him from a certain fate and opened up a world he’d never imagined. And Grip’s right. The poem could have been written for him . . . could have foretold the story of a boy called, not from the streets of a Chilean city, but from the streets of Compton.

Passion weaves between his words and conviction laces every line. He means these words. He loves these words. Amazingly, as he’s reciting a poem I’ve never heard before, someone else’s words illuminate Grip to me. I see him clearly. A man deeply committed to his craft and who views his gift as a miracle of circumstance. As cocky as he is, I see him humbled by the means to escape a path so many others never leave. And if the poem tells his story, his eyes are a confession, never straying from mine, holding mine in the moonlight, his voice liquid poured over something sweet. As he approaches the end, my fears are forgotten, but I’m still stuck on a Ferris wheel under a darkened sky, and nothing has ever been more fitting than the final words, in which the poet says he wheeled with the stars and his heart broke loose on the wind.

There are too few perfect moments in this life. Far too few of us get them, but I am privileged to have this one with this man. When he empties his chest of his heart and empties his body of his soul for me under a starry sky on a Ferris wheel. And I know. In this moment, I know that I’m lost to him. It has been a matter of days. It has been a string of moments. It has not been long enough to tell him, but in my heart, I know I am lost.

“Did that help?” he asks.

He searches through the dim light for my fear or my panic, but they aren’t there anymore. He leans closer, so close his breath whispers over my face. I don’t know when he realizes that fear has gone and that something else has come, but I see the change in his eyes.

I think he might be lost in me, too.

The inches between our lips disappear. At the first brush of his mouth on mine, I know this kiss will never end. It will live on in my memory for the rest of my life. His lips beg entry, a tentative touch that blazes through my defenses and hastens the rhythm of my heart. I clutch his arm, skin and muscle, satin over steel. A thousand textures collide. The hot silk of his mouth. The sharp, straight edge of his teeth. The firm curve of his lips. The taste of him. God, the taste of him makes me moan. He cups my face, fingers spearing into my hair. I press so close the heat of his body burns through the thin fabric of our shirts.

“Bris.” He says it against my lips before trailing kisses down my chin. His mouth opens over my neck, hot and wet, and I arch into him, the pleasure like a train in my veins. Rushing. Vaulting. Exploding.

“Oh, God.” I’m a panting mess. My hands venture under his shirt, desperate, nails scraping at his back. “Keep kissing me.”

He’s back at my lips, devouring, our tongues dueling, dancing. This kiss has a cadence, his head moving to the left and then right, on beat, a syncopation, a simultaneity of lips and tongues. His mouth slants over mine, hot and zealous, and I link my fingers behind his head, clinging, afraid this will end. Afraid to lose the enormity of this moment. At the top of the world, so close we could almost touch the sky and with only the stars watching, I found out what a kiss should be.

grip-mailer-front

About the Author:

Kennedy loves to write about herself in third person. She loves Diet Coke…though she’s always trying to quit. She adores her husband…who she’ll never quit. She loves her son, who is the most special boy on the planet. And she’s devoted to supporting and serving families living with Autism.

And she writes love stories!

For updates, new releases, giveaways and other adventures, subscribe to her newsletter: https://app.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/j9u8i3

You can learn more at:
Facebook | Book Group | Bookbub | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Google +| Pinterest | Amazon