One thing I’ve always tried to do in my stories is write about real women. I try to write heroines that are recognizable to me. Big girls, thin girls, tall girls, petite girls, smart girls, artsy girls, Latina girls, African American girls, mixed race (like me!) girls…

Every day we’re faced with Photoshopped ideals of beauty. Heck, even the gals in the Lane Bryant catalog are airbrushed within an inch of their lives! They’re supposed to be the most “real” models out there but I know my chunky backside doesn’t look anything like their trim, toned, taut booties.

As the mother of a daughter who has survived (and thrived after!) numerous major surgeries–two heart procedures before six months, belly and oral surgeries–I’m always thinking about the way her scars will affect her later in life. She’s four now so we just tell her that’s how they put in her Tony Stark/Ironman heart and she laughs and skips along her merry way–but someday she’ll be 15 or 16 and will have even more heart surgery scars. And she’ll want to wear a bikini or a bathing suit that’s going to show her scars. I hope (pray!) that we’ll have endowed her with enough strength and self-confidence in herself to believe that she’s just as beautiful as we’ve always told her she is.

Kiddo also has autism and I’m learning more and more about the special needs/differently abled community everyday. I find myself wondering sometimes what it’s like for disabled/differently abled women to never read a romance novel with a heroine that looks like you. I’m barely 30, so not very old, but even I never read a romance novel with a heroine like me (Latina) until I was in college. They just weren’t out there. Now, with self-publishing a reality, you can find some really quality reads featuring women of color and all shapes/sizes.

When this video popped onto my Facebook stream yesterday, I watched it immediately. It hit me right in the feels, you know? Definitely worth a watch because it challenges the ideas of what is “flawless” and “beautiful.”

*By the way, I have two new books out–Sergei as Roxie Rivera and Saved by Venom as Lolita Lopez. There’s also a new, very sexy Her Russian Protector free read available here!*