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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How to Jump from One Story to Another

This is one of those times I’m going to blog about something I’m admittedly struggling with in the hopes it inspires me, (and maybe you too!)

Namely: changing from one creative project to another.

You may have encountered this before. Perhaps you’re trying to draft one story while you wait on edits for another. Or you’ve sent your first manuscirpt out to the query trenches, and now you need to write something new.

Maybe, like me, you’re a debut author who is also trying to write a new book.

It’s not easy, to split your thoughts, your hopes, your creative enegry between two projects. I’ve come up with a few ideas, but I’d love to hear your thoughts too!

  1. Image board!
    I admittedly do this the old-fashioned way, where I print out random things that give me story-related feels, then tape them to a posterboard I hang by my writing nook. It’s a great way to get some visual inspiration. However, most people I know use pinterest… which is the exact same thing, without the whole “attempting not to glue yourself to bits of paper.”
    Here’s a mini version of mine for my new project.Untitled design (1)
  2. Playlist!
    One of my all-time favorite things to do! Simply hop on spotify, or 8tracks, and start adding songs to a list that will give you all the feelings of your main characters.
    Here’s one for my next story: link to spotify
  3. Pretend to be your main character
    Okay. Maybe don’t do this if your main character is a brain-eating zombie or something, but I find a little method acting can be a lot of fun. Maybe it’s eating a food (not brains!) that your character likes, or perusing a store they might frequent. Have fun with it!
  4. Art!
    If you can, draw your characters! Or commission an artist (I’ve found amazing ones on Tumblr!) to draw them for you.
    Here’s a sketch the amazing Linnea did of my new MCs. I love how she captured their personalities too!Untitled

    Okay! So I’ve shared my favorite ways to start a new project. Now, tell me, what are yours?

Review: ReMade, a Serial Novel

So, do you remember the good ol’ days of fanfic? Of the thrill of rushing to your school’s computer lab to see if a certain now-mega-famous author uploaded a new episode of her fanfic? Or do you still catch yourself checking those incomplete fics that may never be finished?

Well, have I got an app for you! It’s called Serial Box, and it delivers serialized fiction right to your phone, or your computer. In other words, you get an “episode” of a book, once a week. These episodes are more than just a chapter. Like a TV show, they tell a complete tale, building to a season finale. Plus, you get a free audio file with each episode! Here’s the link

Subscribing is super easy, and cheaper than buying each episode. It totally makes my Wednesday when I know I have something new to read–its that same buzz as when a fanfic updates with a new chapter, except these stories are 1. professionally edited! and 2. guaranteed to never leave you hanging for an ending that never comes.

As this is a YA blog, I decided to review their YA serial, called ReMade.

remade_serial_landscape_large_lores

Every minute, 108 people die. This fall, in one of those minutes, twenty-three of those deaths will be teenagers. Now they are humanity’s last hope for survival. Awakened in a post-apocalyptic world and hunted by mechanical horrors, these teens search for answers amidst the ruins of civilization. Fate, love, and loyalty face off in this adrenaline-pumping YA adventure.

One of the first things I noticed is that ReMade has some seriously amazing writers. I mean, Gwenda Bond AND Kiersten White? Cue fangirl screams from me

The series itself is super fun. It combines dramatic, contemporary elements with a sci-fi/dystopian storyline. It’s also worth noting this is a WAY more diverse cast, both racially and sexuality-wise than any other dystopian out there. It’s like the 100, except way less problematic! Each episode revolves around one (or two!) characters, so it’s worth trying more than one if a character doesn’t strike your fancy.

Have you read a serial novel before? Do you think you’ll give Serial Box a try?

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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Book & a Bomb: UNDER THE LIGHTS Giveaway!

It’s time for another book and a bath-bomb giveaway!

This time I’ll be giving away a BRAND NEW PAPERBACK of UNDER THE LIGHTS by Dahlia Adler, and a PHOENIX RISING bath bomb

BLURB FROM BARNES & NOBLE: Young actor Josh Chester has never been sure that acting is for him–he’s mostly interested in the parties and the hot Hollywood girls that come with the job. But he ends up taking a job on the hit TV series Daylight Falls, opposite Vanessa Park, a girl who is immune to his charms and also his polar opposite. Vanessa loves her job, despite her parents’ disapproval. She’s pretty certain about everything in her life, until she meets her new career handler, a gorgeous girl named Bri. Then things start to get a little confusing. Under the Lights features an adorable romance between two young women, all set against the backdrop of Hollywood. As Vanessa confronts her emerging feelings for her handler, Bri, her co-star Josh confronts his realization that the Hollywood scene might not really be his cup of tea. Under the Lights is a story of self-discovery: learning that the person you always thought you were might not actually be the case anymore.

My thoughts:

This is one of my favorite books this year! It’s thoughtful, funny and just the right mix of Hollywood drama blended with real-life situations. Dahlia nails the characters’ voices, and the glitz of Hollywood.  If you don’t follow Dahlia Adler on Twitter, fix that now! She’s friendly, informative, and a true “reccing ball” for any book suggestions you want, especially YA.  Her next YA novel is called JUST VISITING, and it’s an awesome friendship story. You can preorder it here (LINK)

 

What better bath bomb to go with a tale of budding love among Hollywood’s lights than PHOENIX RISING?

FROM THE LUSH SITE: All the myth and magic of a Phoenix pressed into one bath time experience, which lets you arise at the end feeling refreshed and ready for the next 500 years. One of Lush’s patented double layer bath bombs, your Phoenix will sink to the bottom then rise in triumph, its’ mythical sparkling purple and green plumage unfurling through your bath water. It will release gentle shea butter, cocoa butter and jojoba oil to leave your skin feather soft, and exotic essential oils of fruit and spices, which take your mind on a flight of fancy to distant shores where you are lying on a beach drinking spiced rum

My thoughts: It’s glittery, it’s magical, and it smells like fruit and spices! What a perfect bath bomb for a romantic YA read that had it’s own dashes of spice and glittery fancy parties!

Not an international giveaway, but I will ship to Canada/Mexico!

Enter the giveaway here: Rafflecopter Link

Yinz Gonna Read a Book N’at? (Pittsburghese. Translation below)

*translation “Are you going to read a book?”

** Yinz is the Pittsburgh version of  “Y’all”

*** no one really knows what “N’at” means.

I’d always dreamed of living in a city. As a kid, of course, I usually dreamed about NYC, or Chicago or even London.
I felt at home among skyscrapers, happy in the midst of crowds, alive when all the lights and noise surrounded me. However, I ended up in Pittsburgh, PA, and I couldn’t be happier.

Pittsburgh

 

I’ve got my skyscrapers and my city living full of coffeeshops and live music, but I also get a small town friendliness and community I’ve come to love.  In fact, one of the best things  about Pittsburgh is the vibrant writing community. We have excellent MFA programs at Chatham and Seton Hill, a lovely library system thanks to Andrew Carnegie (just remember in these parts, it’s pronounced “car-NEGGH-gee” rather than New York’s fancy “Carn-e-gee”) and even a really cool program for exiled writers, The City of Asylum.

We have an Andy Warhol museum, a great Children’s museum, incredible theater shows, and amazing parks. Oh, yeah and sports. We have those too. We put french fries in our sandwiches and everyone eats pierogies (we even make vegan ones).

We’ve got films set or partially set here, (Dark Knight!) , video games, (The Last of Us), and plenty of books. The most memorable, for many people is Perks of Being a Wallflower,

Perks Scene

That’s a beautiful shot of a very real part of my city. Likewise, the hit Me, and Earl and the Dying Girl, captures real-life Pittsburghese.

In addition to these Pittsburgh authors, there’s also Joshua David Bellin (aka the YA Guy) author of Survival Colony Nine,Jonathan Auxier , author of The Night Gardener, Laura Lee Anderson, author of Song of Summer, and many others.

Plus we have really cool events. This fall, Rainbow Rowell will be speaking at the library, and this coming weekend, Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman will be speaking at Carnegie Mellon University for FREE! Details below.

So, that’s why I love my odd little big city that thinks it’s a small town. Why do you love your hometown?


 

Details for the event.

Lecture Speakers: Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman
Date: Saturday, August 1, 2015
Time: 2:00 – 3:00 pm
Location: Doherty Hall, Room 2315, Carnegie Mellon University, 5000 Forbes Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15213. The book signing will follow the lecture in the same room.
Registration/Fee: There is no charge to attend the lecture and registration is not required for this portion of the program.

If you’re from Pittsburgh, let me know!

Brooding YA Hero’s Tips to Become a Main Character

This is a guest post by  Broody McHottiepants, aka @broodingYAhero on twitter.

So. Summer’s half over, right? And you’re stressing because you’re not sure if you’re a main character? Don’t worry. I’m here for you. (Literately. I’m always around when you need me. Except in Chapter 23. I had to skip that one.)

Anyways, here’s a list of the top seven ways you can achieve main character status before school starts up again. Not in school because your dystopian society has forced to you duel love interests to the death instead? Or maybe you’re an immortal assassin who’s too busy uncovering conspiracies about love interests to go to school? That’s okay, these tips still can help.

Broody, himself

BROODY’S 7 TIPS TO BECOME A MAIN CHARACTER BY THE END OF SUMMER

1.  Move. To England. Or a remote small town in America.  Or Canada. Or New York City. Or out of your room. Preferably somewhere you won’t have to waste time learning a new language. That gives you more time to reinvent yourself.

2. Get a hobby. The quirkier the better. Goat racing! Plastic bag knitting! Celery painting! This unique skill will certainly lead you towards other quirky characters, and a plot will form around you.

3. Get a destiny/curse/prophecy. These are a little harder to find nowadays, but a good destiny bestowed upon you by a well-meaning magical old lady (or a ominous prophecy from a vengeful Greek god) will grant you main character status every time.

4. Find a place to volunteer. This will let you learn an important lesson about that one character flaw you seem to have, and you’ll emerge at the end of the summer a better person. Also has a high chance of granting you a love interest, should you desire one.

5. Find a magical portal. Check in decrepit buildings, all mirrors, behind ornately carved bookshelves. Inspect all old jewelry, from stuff acquired at a garage sale all the way up to family heirlooms. Maybe do some dusting in the process. You’ll stumble into a gateway to a magical land before long.

6. Roadtrip! Need I say more?

7. Fall in love. This is a risky one. Summer romances don’t always grant you permanent main character status. Better to cross paths with a mysterious stranger, who will just happen to be enrolling in your school that fall. Proceed with caution, least you stumble into a Grease remake.

Alright then. You’ve got the advice. Now, excuse me, I have an old car I have to go work on, while blasting classic rock, and brooding about how no one will ever understand me. Very time consuming. Best of luck. You’ll find me in the halls of school this fall, ignoring you and skipping class.

Want more Brooding YA Hero? He’s on Twitter here and Tumblr here, and all his appearances on other sites are kept here.

Want to interview him or feature him on your site? Contact him at broodingyahero@gmail.com

GIVEAWAY! Book & a Bomb! SONG OF SUMMER.

Welcome to the inaugural post of my monthly giveaway series.

A Book & a Bomb

No, not the exploding type of bomb. A Lush bath bomb that does amazing, magical things to your bathtub. Don’t have a tub? Do what I do, and use half in a big bucket for a lovely foot soak.

Bath bomb in action

These bombs are magical, I’m telling you. Lush is anti-animal testing, all-natural, and full of good products for your skin. Even if you don’t like scented body things, bath bombs, when tucked into a drawer of sheets, will make all your linens smell nice. They’re a simple way to add beauty and good smells to your life.

And what goes better with a relaxing soak than an enjoyable read?

Luxurious baths (or foot soaks) are perfect when paired with a lovely read. That’s why my giveaway will feature a copy of a book I love, and a bath bomb inspired by the book!

For this first giveaway, I’ll be pairing the Lush bath bomb “Blue Skies” with Laura Lee Anderson’s debut YA Contemporary Novel, SONG OF SUMMER.

Keep reading for your chance to win!

SONG OF SUMMER: The thirteen qualities of Robin’s Perfect Man range from the mildly important “Handsome” to the all-important “Great taste in music.” After all, Westfield’s best high school folk musician can’t go out with some shmuck who only listens to top 40 crap. When hot Carter Paulson walks in the door of Robin’s diner, it looks like the list may have come to life. It’s not until the end of the meal that she realizes he’s profoundly deaf.

Carter isn’t looking for a girlfriend. Especially not a hearing one. Not that he has anything against hearing girls, they just don’t speak the same language. But when the cute waitress at Grape Country Dairy makes an effort to talk with him, he takes her out on his yellow Ducati motorcycle.

Music, language, and culture sing back-up as love takes the melody, but just how long can a summer song last?4

 

 

Amazon info click here. 

 

Blue Skies (& Fluffy White Clouds)  bath bomb description.

A deep blue bath of bubbles and scents to induce deep relaxation
Calm your body and mind and slip into a peaceful trance in a tubful of bubbles with our largest bubble bar slice. Exotic frankincense oil has a woody, grounding aroma that blends well with earthy patchouli to relax and restore your state of mind. Lay back and feel yourself float through swirly blue skies and fluffy white clouds of bubbles and into a serene garden of a Far Eastern temple, leaving stress and worries far behind you. For an even greater peace of mind, break your bubble bar in half for two relaxing escapes from the every day. Vegan friendly.

From Lush’s website.

 

To win, enter the Rafflecopter below! This one is open internationally!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

A Thank You to the Writing Community

I’ve always been a writer, but aside from classes, I’ve never shared my writing with anyone other than my long-suffering best friend.Then, a little over a year ago, I realized the story I’d been drafting was something I really, really loved, and wanted to share with other people, maybe even see in print someday. It had been years since I’d declared myself “a writer” to anyone, but, it was time.

So, I hit up Google  for writing sites. Absolute Write, Ladies Who Critique, and Maggie Stiefvater’s annual CP love connection. I met amazing critique partners, who encouraged me to keep writing. They saw potential in the messy, plot-less draft I’d created.

As summer turned to fall, my writing picked up steam, and I was selected for the Pitch Wars mentoring contest, and gave me a whole new network of awesome writing friends. Between that, joining SCBWI, spending (too much?) time on twitter, and crashing in on Nanowrimo meetups, I met even more awesome writers. Seriously, if you’ve ever considered doing any of those things, try it out. You never know who you might meet.

Then an amazing thing happened. The more I interacted with the writing community, the stronger my writing grew. Even more valuable than the editing and writing tips is the sense of fellowship, that bolsters  me on rough days, and cheers with me on great days.  I ‘m not alone anymore, writing stories for only me  and my cat.

This is a thank you to all the writers and creative folk I’ve met so far. Loyal critique partners who will brainstorm plot twists and listen to my rambling tangents, incredible beta readers who offer feedback on the manuscript as a whole, and the hundreds of people I’ve interacted with on Twitter and Tumblr.

I’ve even been lucky enough to meet a few of you in real life.

Your kind encouragement helps me through days when writing a novel seems impossible. Your thoughtful feedback sharpens the story from the vague draft it was into something sparkling. The way you fangirl (or fanboy )over my characters re-ignites my own enthusiasm for them. Your sympathetic ear when real life explodes and writing seems impossible makes the struggle to get words on the page easier. Your joy at my success makes it ten times more awesome.

You have no idea how much you matter.

Why I YA

I’m not a young adult. Shocking. I’m kindasortamaybe a new adult? I suppose? Although that term makes it sound like we hatch adults out of eggs, rather than the stumbling, chaotic, unavoidable slide toward adulthood that actually occurs.

But I love young adult literature.

I love reading it, I love writing it, I love being part of the YA community.

I’ve been reading young adult lit since before I was a teenager, and I’ll probably still be reading it when I’m in a nursing home. I don’t write t for a high school do-over. My high school career, although mixed and full of some truly awkward moments, made me who I am today. I don’t need to redo it.

Look at TEEN ME! I don't need to re-write that smile.

Look at TEEN ME! I don’t need to re-write that smile.

 

I don’t read it because I refuse to grow up. Honestly, I’m pretty good at this wine-sipping, business clothes wearing, grad-school attending adulthood thing. And I l enjoy being an adult! (Mostly. Except doing the dishes. And the taxes)

ME

ADULTING! Why would I give up fancy drink time?

I love young adult literature because it captures the core of our emotions.

Even as adults, when we’re set off kilter, freed of adulthood type rules, when we’re tipsy or tired, stressed or in love, we act…well, like teenagers.

Our teen years are when we’re a confusing, exciting, contradictory, tragic, ecstatic mess.  We laugh for hours over dumb inside jokes, and we’ll cry for days over a cruel off-handed comment. We’re not afraid of so many things because we don’t know enough to be. The future is open and bright and terrifying.

To me, YA lit captures all of that, those core moments that shape us for the rest of our lives: first kiss, first heartbreak, first hope, first failure. It’s the comet flashing neon-bright against the unchanging night-sky of adulthood.

 

So, tell me, why do you YA?