Emunah La-Paz has been building a loyal readership since the early 1990s, when she first published the romantic comedy novella Chocolate Burnout. The 90-page book became a word-of-mouth sensation, and the novella has beenturned into a seven-part series for Hubbard Small Press Publications.

The first novel in that series, Chocolate Burnout: Chocolate 4 Life, publishes on June 7. The book centers on Chantel Reed, a successful, single African American woman who has given up on romance to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a master chocolatier. Chantel’s best friend, Astrid, owns Sweet
Indulgence, one of the most popular chocolate shops in downtown Seattle. The story follows Chantel as she deals with life’s challenges and bounces between an obsession with chocolate and her desire to find the perfect romance.

Each of the seven books in the series will follow a different protagonist. The series will tackle and address a variety of social issues, including racism and inter-racial relationships, which gives the author a lot of material to work with. “Throughout the seven-part series, there will be different perspectives, and the protagonists will develop and change their views as they grow older,” says La-Paz. “The main character, Chantel Reed, her eccentric group of friends, and her peculiar relationships give readers something to look forward to as the series progresses.”

La-Paz has an active following on social media, counting more than 100,000 fans across her Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok channels. She shared early concepts for Chocolate Burnout across these platforms and stirred up conversations and discussions about how the stories should play out. “These snippets and discussions piqued the interest of my followers, and they started to become very engaged in the world of Chocolate Burnout,” La-Paz says.

La-Paz is also currently working on a special edition of Memoir of a Jaded Woman: Tainted Love, the story of a supermodel who becomes the target of cyberbullying after her public divorce. She is also collaborating with a group of young writers for a YA series called Copper.

In addition to romance, La-Paz has cultivated a younger audience with a children’s book series called Kingdom Cubs. The latest title in the series, The Beary Different Magnificent Bear, publishes June 7, and focuses on self-acceptance among young readers. “The first installment in the children’s book series introduces Bearlinda, a multicolored bear who faces the challenge of trying to fit in with her peers,” La-Paz says. “Eventually she learns that standing out is not a hindrance but a quality that makes her special. Bearlinda realizes that it is okay to be beary different.”

While it may seem like a jump from romance to picture books, La-Paz is up for the challenge. “I found writing for the adult genre to be somewhat easier when the topic is based upon actual events that create a unique story line,” La-Paz says. “The children’s book genre may seem simple, however, at times I find it to be rather challenging, as children can have a hard time expressing their feelings. Therefore, the distinct need for creativity is in constant development in order to engage young readers.”