Passing Love
by Jacqueline E. Luckett

Nicole-Marie Handy has loved all things French since she was a child. After the death of her best friend, determined to get out of her rut, she goes to Paris, leaving behind a marriage proposal. While there, Nicole chances upon an old photo of her father-lovingly inscribed, in his hand, to a woman Nicole has never heard of. What starts as a vacation quickly becomes an investigation into his relationship to this mystery woman.

Moving back and forth in time between the sparkling Paris of today and the jazz-fueled city filled with expatriates in the 1950s, Passing Love is the story of two women dealing with lost love, secrets, and betrayal...and how the City of Light may hold all of the answers.
Passing Love will be available online and at major and independent bookstores everywhere. We encourage readers to ask a bookstore to order copies of PASSING LOVE if they cannot find it in their local store. 
Available now, click here.


Publishers Weekly Book Review

It’s midnight in Paris, now and in the mid 20th century, in Luckett’s second novel (after Searching for Tina Turner). In this dreamy and lyrical paean to all things French, a restless African-American woman with a French name (Nicole-Marie Roxane, 56), shucks routine and expectations to live out her dream of traveling to Paris. But her exotic getaway turns into a relentless search for a beautiful woman known to Nicole only from an old photo, Ruby Garrett, whose race and connection to her father are both mysterious. In alternating narratives, Nicole uncovers secrets long held by her difficult parents, as the ferociously independent Ruby describes the freewheeling Paris of the early 1950s, where ambitious black musicians found an appreciative audience and colorblind acceptance.

Luckett skips surprisingly smoothly across six decades as the narrative unfolds the mystery of Nicole’s identity. But the mystery is hardly the point: Luckett weaves a fascinating portrait of women of color who defy family and tradition to follow love and chase success. Ruby’s unflinching, unapologetic choices—even her lies about her race—unsettle Nicole. But Ruby is equally puzzled that Nicole would choose the ordinary over adventure. In the end, it’s the soulful, headstrong, romantic Ruby whose passion resonates in this story of discovery and acceptance. (Jan. 25)

Peer Book Reviews

"Luckett has written our Paris dreams come true--between two lives and two generations, this story delivers the romance and the heartbreak of all that the City of Lights has to offer. You will escape with this novel and question or embrace your own unlived lives."
(Heidi W. Durrow, author of The Girl Who Fell From the Sky)


"A fierce, beautiful novel . . . a heroine for the ages . . . Luckett is a writer to watch and admire." (ZZ Packer, O Magazine, 2007)

"Lush, evocative and seductive. Only read Passing Love if you're willing to give yourself over completely to the excitement of the jazz scene of post-WWII Paris, and a woman's determination to find her place in the present-day City of Light."
(Lalita Tademy, author of Cane River and Red River)


Purchase Passing Love by Jacqueline E. Luckett
ISBN-10: 0446542997
ISBN-13: 978-0446542999

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Intimate Conversation with Jacqueline Luckett

Jacqueline Luckett has been writing since 1999 when she took her first creative writing class on a dare, from herself.  She attributes her growth as a writer to the Voices of Our Nations (VONA) writing workshops and to the members of her writing group, The Finish Party (featured in O Magazine, November 2007).  Jacqueline is the author of Searching for Tina Turner and Passing Love (released January 25, 2012).

BPM: How did you initially break into the publishing industry? 
In the middle of finishing my last draft of Searching for Tina Turner, I began to research agents. I divided my list into choices based on what I knew and wanted from an agent, and then I started sending two or three query letters at a time. I contacted about a dozen agents before one said yes, but it took about six months of rejection letters (which I kept).

Once I got an agent, the second round of submissions began. This is where an agent tries to sell the book to a publishing house. We worked on a list of editors who liked the kind of story I’d written and then the agent pitched the book. There’s nothing a writer can do at this point, except wait to hear from the agent. I wish I could say there was a bidding war for my novel, but there wasn’t. I’ll always remain grateful to my agent (who no longer represents me) and Karen Thomas (an editor at the time) for putting together a book deal with Grand Central Publishing.

BPM: How do you feel about self-publishing? 
I have several friends who have chosen to self-publish. Their reasons vary from the desire to avoid traditional publishing bureaucracy to wanting an aging parent to see their work in print. Self-publishing has changed. Companies such as Lulu and iUniverse produce high-quality books and offer services to create a professional product. They assist writers with editing, artwork, book style and more. After writing, an author’s sole job is to work as his or her own publicist to increase visibility and generate sales. Yet, in that area, I feel that the self-published and first time, conventionally-published authors face the same challenges.

Even though my novel was published by a major publisher, as a first-time author, when it came to publicity I had to be involved. It’s the author’s responsibility to form a partnership with her publisher and to actively participate in the publicity campaign. Regardless of how a writer’s book is published, it remains his/her responsibility to make sure that the manuscript is in tiptop shape before submitting it to a prospective publisher.

BPM: What is your definition of success? 
Success comes in stages, and we have to take the time to appreciate (and celebrate) each one. The first time I printed out a copy of Searching for Tina Turner, I felt successful. I’d accomplished my goal. I wanted to write a book, and I did. That was the beginning of my journey and I celebrated success at every point—from getting an agent to seeing my book displayed on a shelf in a bookstore to writing my second novel. 

Success is fan mail, it’s Googling your name and giggling over all the positive hits, it’s a Facebook fan page with followers. It’s the inner peace I have because I’m doing what I love.  At the National Book Club Conference this past July, a woman came up to me.  “Miss Luckett,” she said, the smile on her face beautiful and wide.  “I just loved your book!”  That, to me, was success—acknowledgement and appreciation of my work.

BPM: How has your writing style evolved over the years? What stimulated your growth?
When I look back at some of my first short stories, I cringe not so much at the writing, but at the craft—or lack of it. But I admire the guts I had to send the stories out. The rejection letters strengthened my determination. Since those days, my style is the same, but my writing has become more polished. I don’t have an MFA, but I’ve taken many workshops and writing classes. I worked hard to learn craft, and that’s an ongoing process. My writing has gotten stronger in the two years since I wrote my first novel. 

The Finish Party, my writing group, has had a great influence on me. I’m blessed to be in this group of eight women who are masters of craft and critique. They’ve been both teachers and avid supporters. We workshop each other’s projects and that process has improved my writing. I admit that there are times when I didn’t like their feedback, but once I returned home, I'd rethink their comments and realize that, nine times out of ten, they’re correct and my writing is all the better because of them.

BPM: What have you realized about yourself since becoming a published author?
Occasionally, I suffer from the old demon of self-doubt. Author Carleen Brice (Orange Mint and Honey) recently asked a group of authors how they fought self-doubt.  I was surprised by the responses of the authors, who were all very accomplished. At first, my doubts were about my writing. Now I feel more comfortable about my ability to write and tell a good story.

BPM: What are some of the benefits of being an author that makes it all worthwhile?
Searching for Tina Turner emphasized the importance of self-worth, reinvention and accepting new challenges. I wanted readers to know that life doesn’t end when you get divorced or reach your fifties. I want them to accept the challenges and possibilities offered by these new chapters in life. It took me about two years to write my first novel. Knowing that readers “get” my messages, love my descriptions of settings, and are eager to see what comes next for me, makes all the writing effort worthwhile.

BPM: Do you have any advice for people seeking to publish a book?
It’s still a challenge to get published. Persistence is vital. For the most part, writers need agents to present their work to publishers. Even before you look for an agent, make sure that your story is tight, your craft is on point, and your manuscript is in good shape. If editing isn't a strong point, find someone to edit for continuity, grammar and typographical errors.

Research agents who represent authors whose work is similar to yours in style, story and genre, and develop a list. Know an agent’s submission guidelines. Then start sending query letters. Your query letter is as important as your manuscript, so make sure to write a compelling (but short) letter to the agents you choose. If an agent takes the time to offer a few suggestions, consider revising your manuscript and move forward. Agents know what it takes to sell a book in today’s market. Don’t be discouraged by rejection. There are plenty of stories about bestsellers that were rejected multiple times (Harry Potter, for example) before the right agent saw the potential for success.

BPM: If you were not a writer, what would you be? What are you passionate about?
I recall having this conversation with my sister a few years ago. At the time, I felt like my many passions were posts in a pinball machine, and the ball never landed or stuck to one spot. I addressed my concerns about having so many areas of interest in an article for the Huffington Post (February 2010). When my sister suggested I could pursue of all the things I loved but that, for the time being, I needed to focus on one, I felt as if a burden had been lifted from my shoulders.

Besides writing, I love photography, cooking for my friends, and interior design. When I dabble in these little passions, I’m able to expand my creativity.  I take hundreds of pictures when I travel. I love to photograph people in the midst of daily life. In many ways the camera invades privacy, so I’m always considerate and polite. I engage potential subjects in conversation and ask permission, but I’ve also been known to sneak a few candid shots every now and then. Design is another form of creativity for me. Sometimes I work with a friend to stage homes for sale and that helps to satisfy my urge to redecorate. As far as cooking goes, I don’t enjoy cooking for one as much as I do putting together meals for my friends. Fortunately, they love my cooking. I don’t have a specialty, but I’m well-known for my apple pie. 

BPM: Introduce us to your book and the main characters. Do you have any favorites? What genre is the book? On Kindle or Nook? 
I’m so excited about PASSING LOVE. I love the all the characters, and I love the setting—Paris, it’s one of my favorite places in the world.  In PASSING LOVE the reader follows the story of two women who go to Paris believing that that city will change their lives. From the start, I knew the story would be about two women, one in the present and the other in the past. 

Nicole is the character in the present who’s discontent with her ordinary life and her married boyfriend. She’s not a timid woman, just a procrastinator who has always wanted to go to Paris. With the encouragement of a friend, she finally makes up her mind to go. Ruby’s story is told in the past and post World War II Paris when Black Americans were drawn to that city for the racial freedom they couldn’t find in the United States. Ruby is the complete opposite of Nicole. Ruby is gutsy and can't wait to leave her tiny southern hometown and see the world. She’s a risk-taker daredevil, and she’s my favorite because she does whatever it takes to make her life an adventure. Unfortunately, she steps on people in the process. 

My goal was to make Paris come alive and to share history and details about the city. I want my readers to become impatient and as excited about Paris as Ruby and Nicole are. Some might define PASSING LOVE as women’s fiction, and while it definitely is a story about women, there’s history and a story that’s not just for female readers. PASSING LOVE will be available to readers in all formats: electronic and trade paperback. The Audio version was released in March, 2012.

Passing Love will be available online and at major and independent bookstores everywhere. We encourage readers to ask a bookstore to order copies of PASSING LOVE if they cannot find it in their local store. Passing Love is available now.

BPM: What inspired you to write this book, Passing Love? 
I wanted to explore what it takes to live a life filled with risk and how risk played into race, love and personal interactions. When I first started writing, I worked on a collection of short stories about a small town in Mississippi. Ruby comes from that town. I was curious to see what kind of female character rebelled against the south, Jim Crow and her mother’s religious beliefs, and what she would do once she escaped those confines. 

BPM: Have you ever experienced writers block?
I'm not sure if getting stuck in the direction of the story is the same as writer’s block, but there were times when I had to stop and try to balance out the two women’s stories so that they were both equally interesting. But, that’s part of the writing and revision process.

BPM: Are any scenes from the book borrowed from your world?
Except for the little knickknack shop that Nicole visits, all the places in Paris are real—the cafés, the jazz clubs, the Opera and the crepe vendors. Because I enjoy Paris so much, I wanted to give Nicole that same sense of wonder and awe that I have every time I visit the city. I took several tours of Paris to learn the history of black expatriates and jazz. Most of my research took place in 2008. I travelled to Little Africa and wandered the streets amazed at the culture within a culture. I explored the streets and buildings and took lots of pictures in order to recall images and places. During my visit to Paris, I stayed in a beautiful apartment on the quai next to the Seine in the 6th arrondissement (one of 20 municipal administrative districts), which I used as a model for the apartment that Nicole rents. Though I’d stayed in this area twice before, it was amazing to learn all the Black history of that area.

BPM: In writing your novels, how do you develop the plot? How much research was required?
I usually know the beginning and end of my stories. From those two points, I have to work my way through the story. It’s quite easy to stray from the storyline, but for the first draft, I let my characters go wherever they want. That works best for me because it helps me to learn what they want and what they’ll do to get it. PASSING LOVE required a lot of research. I wanted to understand European, and particularly the French, reaction to the black soldiers they encountered during World War II.

I wanted to know what Langston Hughes, James Baldwin and Richard Wright thought about the city. It was also important for me to know a bit about jazz and the attitudes and lifestyles of the Black Americans who came there to play, the racial climate and the black history of Paris. It was a fascinating story and there was more that I could have included, but that would have made the book more historical fiction and that was not my goal. I listed a few of the books I used for my research in the Reader’s Guide.

BPM: Who do you want to reach with your book and the message enclosed?
When I read, I love books that are good stories that suspend reality, challenge my imagination and make me think. As a writer that’s what I’ve tried to accomplish in PASSING LOVE and those are the readers that I’m trying to reach. Both Ruby and Nicole learn is that no matter how much we plan and scheme to organize our lives, they can still be unpredictable. How we manage that unpredictability is what differentiates us humans from one another. Perceptions and reality also come into play as the two women begin to understand what it means to live an ordinary life. Does one settle or accept?

BPM: What should readers DO after reading this book? 
They should take a look at their own lives and figure out if they are living the best life they can—according to no other plans or ideas but their own. Then they should go to Paris or any other place that makes their heart sing. Do it now.

I’d love the support of EDC Creations and readers. Here are a few ways you can help: 

• order  PASSING LOVE now, 
• spread the word online and through your network, 
• recommend the books to your book club members,
• if you blog, review the book (no spoiler reviews, please), 
• make sure your local public library has copies of the books, 
• recommend friends buy SEARCHING FOR TINA TURNER and PASSING LOVE, 
• write positive reviews on Amazon and Goodreads—it helps to improve sales and ranking 

BPM: Ultimately, what do you want readers to gain from your book?
For me, reading offers the wonderful ability to experience the world from your home. I want the readers to enjoy something or someplace new. I want them to gain an appreciation of self and an understanding that living an ordinary life is not a curse.

BPM: What insight does the book give readers on LOVE  within relationships? 
Each character in PASSING LOVE has a different response to love, whether its for a spouse, a lover, a friend or a child. Each character has the choice to make about what they will or won't do for love. That choice is not always an easy one. Love is a personal and private emotion. When we share love with another person, we open our hearts. It’s a fragile feeling that the novel explores.

BPM: How do you avoid the temptation of interjecting your own morals or value system in your writing?
It’s important to know as much as one can about a character before the writing starts. I put together character sketches that include everything from what the character likes (or doesn’t like) to eat and drink, what they believe in to their astrological sign to their favorite flavor of ice cream. This sketch becomes a working document that I add to as I discover more about the character. In that way, I understand how a character will respond when presented with a challenge. It takes a while to separate writer from character. For me this happens in revision. 

In SEARCHING FOR TINA TURNER, once I changed the main character’s name and switched the sex and ages of the children, I was released into their fictional world. Those simple changes made me look at each character differently. Revision helps me to understand what characters want so that by the time I’m finished they’re their own people and personalities.

BPM: What particular scenes will grab readers and serve to stimulate spirited discussions?
Nicole and Ruby’s stories are told separately. Nicole’s last night with her so-called boyfriend is interesting because she rejects and loves him at the same time. Ruby’s first encounter with a saxophone player, at the age of sixteen will surely provoke conversation because her age and her boldness are pretty forward for the time. There are a few key scenes that will surprise the reader, but I hesitate to tell them for fear of giving the story away. Readers should think of the beginning chapters as threads intertwining to tell a bigger story, they’ll be grabbed and surprised by many scenes.

BPM: Share with us a brief excerpt from one of the most powerful chapters.
Again the action of the story depends on both the chapters. Here are excerpts from Nicole and Ruby’s chapters that let you know all is not well.

From a Nicole chapter:   The question was the question: not how did the snapshot get to Paris, but who was it for? Not all men were saints—her philandering ex-husband and married boyfriend were proof—and that could include Squire Handy. Though her father’s past wasn’t any of her business, curiosity spurred Nicole. . . Her mother answered the phone on the seventh ring. “You won't believe what I found.” Nicole described the soldiers, the insignia . . . “How do you think it got here?”

From a Ruby chapter:   The door opened without a creak or a knock. Martha in her white nightgown, the unlit hall behind her, resembled an oversized haint that on any other night would have tickled Ruby. A switch wobbled in her hand, the very one from behind the kitchen door . . . She picked up Ruby’s shoes and fingered the damp, mud-speckled soles. “Did you think I was born a fool, RubyMae? Did you think good folk wouldn’t talk? Did you think I wouldn’t smell the liquor and the smoke?” Dropping the shoes onto the floor, she raised her right hand. “That man with his sugar-coated lies for a fool girl. You think I didn't see? You’ve been with him.” The switch fell first on Ruby’s back, snagging her dress . . . 

BPM: Will the digital age or social media usage change the face of publishing?
In discussions about industry trends with my editor and publicist, I’ve learned the answer is probably and more than likely. Publishers are encouraging writers to Tweet and post on Facebook on a regular basis in order to promote their books and build a following. Some editors are checking the number of followers writers have as part of their consideration to take on a new projects. As far as the impact of digital is concerned, I’m of two minds. I prefer the tactile experience of reading. I love to mark up my pages and move back and forth in a story, or reread passages. I’d use an e-reader for research materials. More and more readers are switching to Kindles, Nooks, and IPads to read. Bottom line, for me, format doesn’t matter. It’s just important that people continue to read.

BPM: How do feel about selling digital books vs. selling in a brick and mortar store? What impact do you think electronic book sales will have on black authors? On indie authors? 
It’s exciting to go into a bookstore and see shelf upon shelf of books. Typically, the staff in independent stores are knowledgeable and accessible. They’re important to authors because they can direct readers to your books. There’s no one to do that in an online store. It’s probably true that most major publishers will sell books in both digital and hardcopy versions for a long time. Publishing profits are higher because labor is less intensive and not as time consuming. It’s my hope that authors will be well compensated as well. Often many black and indie authors are not able to sell their books to major houses. Smaller publishers or university presses may not be willing or able to make the investment in digital books. That would reduce readership as more and more readers switch to e-readers.

BPM: What has been your most difficult hurdle to leap? Marketing, promotions or gaining media exposure, etc. How can EDC Creations and our readers help you?
It was difficult to get the word out about my novels only because I was new to the industry and didn't understand all the channels available to me. Locally, I’ve done three TV programs. Some bookstores were reluctant to buy quantities of SEARCHING FOR TINA TURNER because it was my first novel and I hadn’t been published before. Even though SEARCHING FOR TINA TURNER was named an Essence selection, I’m not sure how that selection translated to sales. It was an honor to be chosen and helped me to gain name recognition. PASSING LOVE will be released as a trade paperback, making it more affordable both for readers and bookstores. 

BPM: How much does “word of mouth” play into the success of your book? What grassroots strategies have you used to spread the word about your book? 
“Word of mouth” is important. It informs people, but it should also encourage people to buy and pre-order now (you can do this online and at your local bookstore). Just as we’ve discussed the effect of digital publishing and social media, the way to spread the word is different. If readers like my books, say so and why on Facebook, Goodreads etc..
Tweet about the book using hashtags such as #Paris, #travel, #jazz, #women’s fiction, #world war II, #readers and any other topics you think of after you’ve read the books. I’ve done contests and giveaways. I’ve donated books to silent auctions at charities along with a visit to a book club meeting. That’s my grassroots strategy. Any other ideas are welcome.

BPM: Share with us your latest news or upcoming book releases. How may our readers follow you online? 
I’m still trying to figure that out for myself. I’ve written a play that I’ll try to get produced. I’m working on idea for my third novel and I’d love to have more speaking engagements. 

Heidi Durrow (The Girl Who Fell From the Sky),  Tayari Jones (Silver Sparrow) and  Virginia DeBerry and Donna Grant (Uptown,  Tryin’ to Sleep in the Bed You Made)  have written wonderful blurbs that will appear on the cover of PASSING LOVE.  Also, PASSING LOVE, has been selected as a featured novel for Black Expressions Book club, January 2012! 

I’m easy to find at  Readers can check out and comment on my blog and sign up for my newsletter.    “LIKE” me on my Facebook fan page  and   follow me on  Twitter @jackieluckett

BPM: Thank you, Jacqueline Luckett, for sharing a little bit about yourself, your journey and your book with our readers!

Searching for Tina Turner in bookstores now. 
“A fierce, beautiful tour de force . . . a heroine for the ages . . .Luckett is a writer to watch and admire.” -- ZZ Packer


Connect with Jacqueline Luckett Online

Finish Party Website:
Twitter Profile: @jackieluckett  and



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