TALKING TROPES with Imani Josey

Carrie here, with an ongoing feature on the blog, TALKING TROPES. These will be fun interviews with some really great authors, where we discuss their books, their favorite stories, and also tropes they love, and tropes they hate. One of the things I’ve noticed as BroodingYAHero is that people sometimes fall into the thinking that all tropes are awful, and that’s not true. Some certainly are, and some are overused to the point of absurdity, but some tropes are useful tools!

Today’s guest author is the amazing Imani Josey!

Imani Josey is a writer from Chicago, Illinois. In her previous life, she was a cheerleader for the Chicago Bulls and won the titles of Miss Chicago and Miss Cook County for the Miss America Organization, as well as Miss Black Illinois USA.

Her one-act play, Grace, was produced by Pegasus Players Theatre Chicago after winning the 19th Annual Young Playwrights Festival. In recent years, she has turned her sights to long-form fiction. The Blazing Star is her debut novel.

Imani’s novel, THE BLAZING STAR is a really amazing historical novel that utterly pulled me in. I highly, highly recommend it.

Order a copy right here: link. and watch the beautiful trailer here.

TheBlazingStar_cover_FINAL (1)

CD: So, first of all, I adored THE BLAZING STAR and cannot wait for the sequel! Can you tell me a little of your inspiration for it?

IJ: Yay! I’m so glad you enjoyed it! I’m excited about the sequel also. You could say that the series has been on my mind in one way or another since I was a child. The Blazing Star is a much better rendition of the first book (if you could call it a book… it was 60 pages of craziness) that I wrote when I ten-years-old. I actually still have a copy somewhere. The story was about three friends who journeyed to an alternate dimension and discovered they were faerie princesses. It was very much something a preteen in the 90’s would write.

I decided to really dive into my writing around 2011 and the fantasy genre is a great form of escapism, which is what I needed at that time. I found a terrible job after grad school (underpaid, over-skilled, underwhelmed), and had to take my mind elsewhere. It was then that I decided that the bones of that old faerie princess story were actually decent, and would fit well with a YA adventure swirling in my head. Add a dash of historical fiction and ancient Egyptian mythology, and six years later, here we are.

CD: One of the things I loved about THE BLAZING STAR the lush, vivid setting. How did you manage to make a historical time period feel so real???

IJ: Shhhh, I have a time machine I’ve always been fascinated by the ancient world, especially Egypt. My mother also gave me a portrait of Nerfertari when I was young. I took that picture to my first apartment, and wrote under it. I recently went to the Djerassi YA workshop hosted by bestseller Nova Ren Suma, and she asked the attendees about our muses. I said history. My grandfather is a historian, so perhaps it is in the blood. But I’m as fascinated by history as I am by magic. I love how there’s nothing new under the sun, that people’s motivations thousands of years ago still motivate them today.

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Interview: GifGrrl

Today on the blog, I’m joined by a very talented friend. As well as being a talented writer, Claribel Ortega is the founder and mastermind behind GifGrrl, a really amazing company.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, a gif is a moving picture! Like this:


Oh hey! It’s my book! Looking sharp!

I adored this gif, and I wanted to talk a little bit more to the creator! Without further ado, I’ll jump into the interview!

CD: Tell me a bit about yourself and GIFGRRL.

CO: It really all started as something to do for fun. I loved watching the covers of books come alive and seeing the authors reaction when I made them a gif. Eventually though, I realized that I could do that and also pay my bills! So I started GIFGRRL and now it’s pretty much a second (third??) full time job.

CD: What do you love about creating the gifs and trailers?

CO: I’ve always loved video editing. It’s been a hidden but well cultivated talent which started with my dad’s giant 1980s camcorder and some low-budget windows editing software. Making gifs/promo material is more than just trying to sell a product to me, it’s about telling a story. Maybe not the full story, but a tiny slice of what the book is trying to say. Bringing things to life, characters, book covers, the spirits of dead punk-rockers, are just a few of my favorite things.



CD: What’s one book you’d love to make a trailer for?

CO: It’s hard to pick a favorite, but WANT by Cindy Pon comes to mind as one of the best I’ve made so far. It just really captures the theme of the book, the colors and the motions were all on point. I also adored STARFISH by Akemi Bowman because that cover is just SPECTACULAR and it was so much fun to work with!


CD: Are there any challenging parts?

CO: Time management! I am a full-time book marketing human and author on top of running GIFGRRL. In just over a month I’ve already gotten over forty individual and two giant bulk orders. It’s a lot for a grrl to take on, but I have coffee and the cuddles of my doggo to help keep me going. Can you tell us a bit about the process? First, I stare at the book cover. Then I light candles and pray to the GIF-Gods™ – then I read the synopsis and stare at the book cover some more. I eat some snacks. Usually cheese-puffs. Sometimes I ask the author questions. I gather stock video/photos that capture the feel of the cover for me and start editing/manipulating them to further match the tone. I search for fonts that are similar to the one on the cover. I put it all in a blender and eat another cheese puff. One I have all the materials and my fingers are orange, I start putting it together. I then cut, and edit, and stare until I’m happy. One gif can take anywhere from ten minutes to two hours, depending on how involved I get.


This is the BroodyBook Illustrator’s webcomic!

CD: What inspires you?

CO: Many things! Music, books, chasing a sense of completion/fulfilment through art. Cheese-puffs.


CD: What’s your favorite part of the process?

CO: When I get an author’s cover and the ideas start flying at my face. The best feeling is when I just know what I want to make. Sometimes it’s a challenge to get my vision to match the end product, but I enjoy figuring out how to make it all come together. And then of course once I deliver the final product to the author and they tell me how much they love me! Being able to help people who are graphically challenged or have no idea HOW to build buzz for their books brings me joy. I just like helping people.


Thank you so much for a wonderful interview, Claribel! And remember, you can order your own gifs from this talented artist here:

Talking Tropes with Jess Cluess

Hi! Carrie here! I’m pleased to unveil a new, ongoing feature on the blog, TALKING TROPES. These will be fun interviews with some really great authors, where we discuss their books, their favorite stories, and also tropes they love, and tropes they hate. One of the things I’ve noticed as BroodingYAHero is that people sometimes fall into the thinking that all tropes are awful, and that’s not true. Some certainly are, and some are overused to the point of absurdity, but some tropes are useful tools!

In this inaugural blog, I’ll be interviewing the fabulous Jessica Cluess, author of A SHADOW BRIGHT AND BURNING, one of my favorite reads in 2016! It has some FABULOUS trope subversion that you need to read to believe.

Oh, and I’ll also be doing a giveaway of its sequel, A POISON DARK AND DROWNING, so definitely read until the end!

Without further ado, let’s begin!


  1. So, first of all, your book is incredible! Can you tell me a little of your inspiration for it?

J: Thank you! I got the idea from Nicholas Nickleby, actually. There’s a scene where Nicholas physically stops an assault on a defenseless boy. Since it’s set in Victorian England, I wondered how a girl of the time might have managed something like that. Then I had this image of her blasting fire out of her hands, and bam. That was it.

  1. One of the things I loved about A SHADOW BRIGHT AND BURNING is how complex all the characters are. Without spoilers, it’s fair to say no one is quite as they seem. Do you have any favorites among the cast?

J: I think my two favorites are Henrietta and the magician Hargrove. Henrietta’s the lead and the narrator, so it’s very fortunate that she’s one of my favorites. I’d have a hard time writing the series if I didn’t like her! As for Hargrove, he’s got a lot of secrets, but he also has a lot of fun. I enjoy characters who enjoy themselves. He doesn’t angst endlessly over his past, and I admire that.

  1. What other books/tv/movies have you enjoyed this year?

J:  Man, where to start? Traci Chee’s THE READER, Tara Sim’s TIMEKEEPER, Roshani Chokshi’s THE STAR TOUCHED QUEEN, Alwyn Hamilton’s REBEL OF THE SANDS, Emily Skrutskie’s THE ABYSS SURROUNDS US, all incredible 2016 YA debuts. Then there’s CARAVAL by Stephanie Garber, too!


I’ve been spoiled with the incredible amount of great books I’ve read. That’s an excellent way to be spoiled, of course. As for movies and TV, I find I have less and less time these days. One thing I’m currently deep into is Mr. Robot. It’s really doing wonders to increase my paranoia, so…actually, that’s not a good thing. Eh. What can you do?

  1. Let’s talk tropes. I know you’re a fan of BroodingYAhero. Are there any other character tropes you love?

J: Ah, Brooding YA Hero is one of my favorite things on the internet. I can’t wait for the book. Hmm. As far as tropes go, I’m a sucker for the ‘person has to confront their past’ storyline, in pretty much any form. I think the only way to really move into the future is to contend with past failures or problems. Also, it’s heavily dramatic. I’ve come to realize that a lot of my stories deal with characters having to deal with secrets from the past, be it family or society. The cycle doesn’t end until you break it, so to speak.

  1. Any you hate?

J: That asshole YA hero who always says and does asshole things? And then people call him charming? That’s not charm. That’s being a jackass. There’s a difference.


(okay, Harry probably isn’t that trope buuut it’s just too perfect a gif)
  1. What about plot tropes?

J: I love the ragtag bunch of heroes coming together and realizing they need each other, even if they want to kill each other. I really, really dislike plots that are built upon constant misunderstanding and miscommunication. That’s forcing characters to behave like idiots so that we can have a story.

  1. What’s one piece of writing advice you have for aspiring authors?

J: Originally, the hero of Star Wars was going to be named Jason Starkiller. It was a very, very different script, and not a very good one. My point is that your first draft is not going to be close to what you see in your head on the first try. Don’t get frustrated. Learn to love the rewrite process, because it’s what separates the Jason Starkillers from the Luke Skywalkers.

Thank you again, Jessica, for this awesome interview!

And now, for the giveaway!

  Click HERE for a Rafflecopter giveaway

Business of Art Interview: KT Hanna

For this installment of The Business of Art, I have the honor of speaking with KT Hanna, an incredible indie-author. Her sci-fi series, THE DOMINO PROJECT, is thrilling. KTs hard work and passion for the story is seriously impressive.
Recently, Kirkus reviewed the first book in the series, CHAMELON and had this to say:

“Hanna takes familiar sci-fi genre elements, such as an outsider network of rebels and emotionless, superhuman companions, and spins dystopian gold… This is a fabulous series opener. A bracing debut that might just knock the wind out of readers.”
Kirkus Reviews

CHAMELEON Domino Project Front with Text 2 (1)

Want to read? You can buy the first book at this link (CLICK!) Or, simply comment on this blog post for a chance to win.

Without further ado, here’s the interview!

C: Hi! Can you tell me a bit about yourself and your career as a writer?

KT:  I’m an Aussie expat and met my husband in an online MMORPG (Everquest 2). I ended up over here in the worst place for my asthma, and have a cat, 2 corgis, and a gorgeous little three-year-old now thanks to him I’ve been writing for a very long time, but have been working at it more seriously for about ten years, and very seriously for the last five. I’ve had two agents, and horrific market timing, so after parting ways with my second agent, I decided to market time myself and release a trilogy that is near and dear to my heart.

C: What skills have you developed as an indie author?

KT: The ability to refresh my amazon page for review numbers over, and over, and… Seriously though – multitasking. I not only have to write and edit, but I have to oversee the cover, and organize promotion, and make sure the books make it to both copy edits and formatting on time… It’s a lot of work, but it’s oddly rewarding.
 (Carrie side-note: KT does an INCREDIBLE job with marketing. Other Indie-Authors should follow her lead!)
C:  I’d love to hear more about how you chose your cover. Could you go into a little more detail?
KT: Actually, I participated in a charity auction and bid on an ebook cover. My awesome cover artist S.P. McConnell, listened to me chat about my book and offered to read it. Then he came to me with a concept sketch and I was sold. His vision of Sai and my world was perfect. He had all the details, right down to the holo equipment in the office, the sheen on the armor, and the way the advertisements reflect off the city domes. I loved the work I’d seen him do, but my cover was even more perfect than I thought.

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An Interview (+ Giveaway!) with Author Lindsay Randall

I’m very excited to welcome author Lindsay Randall to my blog today. She was my very first writing mentor, and I still have the notes she gave me saved in my writing folder. I can’t say enough positive things about her. Her encouragement has bolstered my spirits many times. She’s a talented, award-wining author of over twelve novels. Today, we will be discussing her newest book,  Rescued by the Cowboy. I just finished the novel, and I highly recommend it! It’s a perfect read for a summery day, with a romance guaranteed to make you swoon.

Interested? Check out the Rafflecopter below  for a chance to win your very own copy and a Starbucks giftcard! Nothing says summer time like a romantic read and an iced latte! (giveaway open internationally, ebook and ecard delivered via email)

The book is also available for sale here! 

CLICK HERE FOR Rafflecopter giveaway

Randall, Lindsay - Texas Flyboys series - Book 1 - Rescued by the Cowboy...

Lindsay:  Thanks for inviting me to visit with you at Creatively Carrie. I’m glad to be here!

Carrie: Could you tell me a bit about your writing career?

Lindsay: Absolutely. I think of it more as a writing life, though. Writing is what I do—it’s what I’ve always done.

I have this vivid memory of me in second grade, struggling to put a story into words and onto a page. I wasn’t so much striving to get an assignment done as I was awakening to this deep-seated need in me to sculpt a scene with words. Zoom ahead decades later and here I am, responding still to an urge within that wants to write.

I am the author of historical and contemporary romance novels. I also enjoy writing nonfiction articles. By day, I create university fundraising materials. So I pretty much write all the time. I think it was Louis L’Amour who once said a person can be a writer from cradle to grave, or something similar. I like that—and yep, it’s my goal.

Carrie: What is the process like for you? Are you a “plotter” or a “pantser”?

Lindsay: A bit of both. When I begin, I have a plot in mind and know where I’m headed. But then, boom, I get writing and my characters never fail to surprise me. Happens every time.

With Rescued, though, I did stick to an outline of where the story needed to go and what events needed to happen. This book was written during a year’s worth of weekends. Every Saturday I’d get up early, sink into a scene, and stay there until I was finished. I absolutely loved telling this tale. It was pure joy to hit the weekend and spend it with Nick and Tess.

Carrie: What was your favorite thing about writing Rescued?

Lindsay: Diving into the setting! I just loved heading into the mountains of Mexico and imagining all the things Tess and Nick would encounter. The cave scene near the end remains my fave spot/scene for these two characters (well, other than the scene at the zocalo, that is!).

Carrie: I really enjoyed the way you describe settings! Reading Rescued felt like a vacation! Did you face any challenges in the process?

Lindsay: Yes and those challenges came from the same place they always do: juggling full-time work with my creative work, which is mostly a challenge but also a bit of a gift.

When I get bruised by one, the other is always there, inviting me to come soothe myself in a different space.

Carrie: That’s great advice, and something I know I struggle with too. On a lighter note, any fun facts to share about your characters?

Lindsay: Ah, here’s a fun fact about Nick. While Rosie, the miniature pig, took a shine to him, she’s not the first creature to follow at his feet. Animals love Nick. Horses, dogs, even cows—they all just sort of gravitate to him. His brothers found this hilarious, which led to lots of jokes through the years. But whenever there’s an ornery animal to wrangle, they call Nick. 🙂

Oh, and he plays the harmonica even better than he does the guitar. 🙂 🙂

Carrie: Oh, goodness. A musical man with a sensitivity to animals? I feel faint. Finally, what advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Lindsay:  Don’t let your writing keep you from reading. Make time every day for reading—and read widely. Step outside your comfort zone/zip code/present century and immerse yourself in diverse voices.

Other than that, keep writing. The more you write, the better you’ll write. And the more you read, the better you’ll know what to write and what not to write. (That sounds a bit like I’m saying you’ll encounter bad writing. That’s not what I mean. What I mean is this: The more you encounter the beliefs and ideas of others, the more you come to understand the human condition. Your writing will begin to reflect what it is to be human. And when you can write about that, I suspect you’ll be creating powerful pieces.)

Thank you so much for coming to the blog today, Lindsay! Can’t wait to read your next book!


Business of Art Interview: K. Kazul Wolf

So, it’s time for another Business of Art interview, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to introduce K. Kazul Wolf, a writer as well as a professional chef! Her creativity amazes me and her story prompts are a great way to beat writer’s block. They are posted every week on her Tumblr.


 Hi! Tell me a bit about yourself?

Hallo! My penname may be K. Kazul Wolf, but most people call me Bacon. My day job is a chef-who-turned-baker at a four diamond restaurant in the Finger Lakes of New York, and then I come home to my crazy house of two dogs, too many cats, and chickens who also think they’re cats. Otherwise, I’m a fantasy author that talks too much about dragons.

How long have you been writing? What do you love about writing?

I’ve only been writing for about five years, give or take. I was kind of a late bloomer with both reading and writing — I couldn’t care less about reading until I picked up either Harry Potter or The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe (it’s the chicken and the egg, I have no idea which really came first) when I was ten, and couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do with my love of creating worlds until I was eighteen.
As to what I love about writing: I love creating. There’s nothing I love more than to weave any medium into something beautiful, or emotional — something that makes you feel. Writing is perfect for that.

I loved the Narnia books too! What other books are among your favorite?

Ohhhh, that’s such a hard question! My top to go-tos, though, are: Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, and The Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy by Laini Taylor. No one can ever beat Diana Wynne Jones’s world-building and plot complexity, and Laini Taylor is absolutely beautiful in her prose.

What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever heard?

This is going to sound lame, but simply: write. Yeah, we all have moments of doubt, but those insecurities you feel are felt by every single author out there. If you don’t push through them and get the stupid words out, you won’t have written, and you won’t be a writer. So, yeah. WRITE.

I couldn’t agree more! Doubt sneaks into every writer’s brain. Tell me a bit about the projects you’re working on now.

Well, I’m coming to an end to my year-long project, where I take prompts every week and write a short story involving all of them (more about this over here). And as for my WIP novel, I conveniently have a rough query:

Emma wakes up to a man with black eyes and razor-pointed teeth hovering over her, in a strange house, an even stranger land. She can’t even try to run; the town she’s in is surrounded by a ward that keeps out a seething darkness of eaters — formless remains of people who have lost their souls, and will do anything to get another. But even that doesn’t compare to the fact that she can’t even remember who she was before she woke up.

The monster-man, Bob, and the owner of the house, a Magician named Morgan, seem nice enough, though the sink like a bottomless pit, an oven that likes to shoot its racks at unsuspecting victims are a little hard to swallow. There’s no solace outside — the townsfolk blame her for the infestation of monsters, and it’s only Morgan and Bob keeping her safe. Emma can’t understand what motivates them to help her, what’s in it for them and what they want from her. The truth is a tricky thing when you can barely remember your own name.

That query sounds intense! Can’t wait to read the story! You mentioned you’re a professional chef, which is awesome! Do you find your culinary expertise influencing your writing?

Yes! You have no idea how much I annoy my friends with cooking metaphors. For awhile I stayed away from food in my own writing, but looking back, I don’t know why. Who doesn’t love food? On the level of similarities between the two, there’s actually a lot, especially with baking. It takes patience, precision and practice. You’re not going to start off icing wedding cakes like a pro, or cooking tenderloins to a perfect medium-rare, or  cutting perfect tourne (those are evil). And there’s always more to learn, and always different ways to perfect your style and taste.

One of the features of my blog is “the business of art” In your life, have you encountered any challenges or confusion relating to business matters and your art?

Oh gosh, yes. As a writer, I could complain about having to be a small business and brand onto myself until I’m blue in the face, but I that’s something other people can cover way better then me. As a chef, it’s a little different. Just like the literary industry, it’s very unique, and it can be hard to break into the fine dining side of things. Especially as a woman. I actually had training and classes on a very nice culinary resume before applying to culinary jobs. Even with all that, one of my first interviews the man kept asking me, “But you’re so pretty, don’t you want to be a waitress?” I wouldn’t have accepted the job, even if it was offered. And as a vast contrast to querying vs. job applications, this was personal. It wasn’t that I wasn’t a right match, it was that I was a girl.
That being said, I got my first fine dining job at a great restaurant on the second day of a stage (unpaid internship), when the head chef came up and asked if I wanted a be hired as a garde manger. Being the quiet introvert on top of being a girl, it’s a hard place to be taken seriously even if I have all the skills. It’s sad that there’s still so much sexism in the culinary field (oh the irony with all the kitchen jokes), but that doesn’t mean it should stop you from trying to do what you want to do.
Thank you so much for a great interview (and for making me hungry. Mmm cake.)

If you’d like to find out more about K. Kazul, here are her homes on the ‘net.

Business of Art Interview-Nicole Tone!

Hi! Welcome to the inaugural edition of what will be a bi-weekly feature. I’ll be interviewing creative folks of all types, artists, writers, actors and crafters.

To kick things off, I’m interviewing the fabulous Nicole Tone.  She’s a great friend of mine, and an amazing writer. Find her on twitter at @nicoleatone, or subscribe to her blog at


Tell me a bit about yourself:

Nicole:  I’m an MFA in Creative Writing student, submissions intern, editorial intern, traveler, wife, freelance editor, and book blogger.

How long have you been writing?:

Nicole: I’ve been writing since I was in first grade, but didn’t end up completing a project until last year.

What are some of your  favorite books?

Nicole: White Oleander by Janet Fitch; Wasted by Marya Hornbacher; Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill; and Looking for Alaska by John Green are among my favorite.

What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever heard?

Nicole: Do not write what you know, but write what you believe is the truth, especially in fiction.

What projects are keeping you busy these days?

Nicole: I’m currently working on two projects. One, a Women’s Fiction that takes place in Seattle that tries to answer the question of what home is while being wrapped up in classical music, summer weddings, and what if’s with handsome violinists. The second is an urban fantasy that I’m having a blast trying to draft with the help of some really great critique partners.

One of the features of my blog is “the business of art” In your life, have you encountered any challenges relating to business matters and your art?

Nicole: This spring I began my MFA in Creative Writing at Chatham University. When I had first researched and applied to MFA programs, my primary focus had been on teaching, and wanting to start an MFA program at one of the many schools in Buffalo (since there are no graduate level writing programs here).However, in the interim, I’ve gained amazing experience in two different internships in the publishing industry.  My focus, and my passion, has shifted from teaching to being a part of the publishing industry. I’m currently offering critiques, and I cannot begin to explain the joy that comes from providing this service to my clients.

So, to finally get to my question, how important is formal education in the publishing industry? Is experience everything? The MFA? Or, is a MA or MS in Publishing far more marketable and necessary?

Great question! If you have thoughts on Masters programs in the publishing industry, please feel free to comment below! Thanks for an awesome interview, Nicole.


If you’d like to be featured on a Business of Art interview, please contact me at