Getting to Know You: Interview with Karma Kingley

Image result for finding lizzieHello my pandas! Today I have a special treat for you: a Rich in Variety interview with Karma Kingsley, author of Finding Lizzie. Her book was just released a little over a month ago, and I seriously need to read it ASAP.

What is the book about? Well, here’s what Goodreads has to say: Lizzie doesn’t know what she wants from life, but she’s sure it’s not the attention of her suffocating boyfriend, RJ. A chance encounter with a group of women on the day of the local Pride parade leads her to meet the wild, free-spirited Kerra. Lizzie begins to realise she’s crazy about Kerra, but how can she come out in a small town where prejudice is rife and even her own mother thinks being a lesbian is wrong? Can Lizzie find herself without losing everything else in the process?

However, maybe you need some convincing from Ms. Kingsley herself. So without further ado, let’s get started. Continue reading

Revelio!: Cover Reveal of Crawdad

Today I’m very excited to be working with Rich in Variety Tours again! Today is a cover reveal for Crawdad by Lisa Cresswell. I don’t believe that this book has a release date yet, and I haven’t read it yet, but the summary has definitely piqued my interest. Here it is:

Seventeen-year-old Jamil Ramos grew up on Alabama’s Gulf Coast believing his mom, Loretta, was his only living relative. She put a trumpet in his hands as a toddler and sparked his love of jazz. But when Loretta drops a bomb on Jamil from her deathbed- she’s not his mama and his daddy is still alive, living in Charleston, S.C. – his world is turned upside down.
Now, with the only mama he’s ever known gone and the Loyola University trumpet audition less than a week away, Jamil has trouble feeling his music. When his band teacher tells him to get it together, Jamil decides to hitchhike to South Carolina over to find his father and get his questions answered. All he has is a name –Leon Ramos.
Jamil relies on the kindness of the strangers he meets-a gay teen kicked out of his home, a runaway prostitute, and a street musician-as he makes his way across Florida and Georgia trying to avoid the cops along the way. But when Jamil is robbed of his most prized possession, his trumpet, his plans go anywhere but where he’d hoped. That trumpet was supposed to be his ticket for a scholarship, the only way to college his mama could give him. Lost and alone without it, Jamil wonders if finding his father is worth risking his future.

Diversity: This book includes main characters who are African-American. There are also minor characters who are a part of the LGBT+ community and disabled.

Genre: YA Contemporary

Excited? Interested? Well, here’s the cover. *Drumroll please*… Continue reading

Faith, Trust and Poison: White Nights, Black Paradise

Displaying white nights black paradise banner.png

Today I bring you another blog tour with Rich in Variety Tours. This time it’s a full length novel about the People’s Temple and White Night. This book is a historical take through a feminine perspective, and I truly can’t wait to share it with you!

About the Book

Author: Sikivu Hutchinson
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: November 16, 2015
Genre(s): Historical Fiction, LGBT+
Page Number: 325

In 1978, Peoples Temple, a Black multiracial church once at the forefront of progressive San Francisco politics, self-destructed in a Guyana jungle settlement named after its leader, the Reverend Jim Jones. Fatally bonded by fear of racist annihilation, the community’s greatest symbol of crisis was the White Night; a rehearsal of revolutionary mass suicide that eventually led to the deaths of over 900 church members of all ages, genders and sexual orientations. White Nights, Black Paradise focuses on three fictional black women characters who were part of the Peoples Temple movement but took radically different paths to Jonestown: Hy, a drifter and a spiritual seeker, her sister Taryn, an atheist with an inside line on the church’s money trail and Ida Lassiter, an activist whose watchdog journalism exposes the rot of corruption, sexual abuse, racism and violence in the church, fueling its exodus to Guyana. White Nights, Black Paradise is a riveting story of complicity and resistance; loyalty and betrayal; black struggle and black sacrifice. It locates Peoples Temple and Jonestown in the shadow of the civil rights movement, Black Power, Second Wave feminism and the Great Migration. Recapturing black women’s voices, White Nights, Black Paradise explores their elusive quest for social justice, home and utopia. In so doing, the novel provides a complex window onto the epic flameout of a movement that was not only an indictment of religious faith but of American democracy.

Purchase the book here:

Amazon // Author Website

 

Okay, I’ll readily admit that this is not usually my type of book. While I’ve read a few historical fiction books, I don’t think I’ve ever read any LGBTQ+ ones before. Which, quite frankly, is a bit depressing. I’ve also never heard of the People’s Temple and Jonestown. So the fact that this book really engaged me is a testament to how well written it was. Admittedly, it was a little hard to follow at points because of the switching points of view, places, and time periods. There were times when I couldn’t place something in the timeline, especially in the beginning, but I got used to it as the book progressed. It was very interesting to read from a mostly female persective, since there were so many different people who were all affected by the Temple in some way. I actually felt most intrigued by Mother Mabelean because she seemed like a very compassionate person but had so much going on behind the scenes. Hy and Taryn were both independent in their own ways, and it was interesting seeing the switch in their perspectives of the Temple. Ida was also an engaging character, but she kind of faded into a sort of outside influence halfway through. The book did feel a bit dense at times, but it truly is a rewarding and enlightening read. It gets a 9 out of 10 from me!

About the Author

 

Sikivu Hutchinson is the author of Imagining Transit: Race, Gender, and Transportation Politics in Los Angeles, Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics, and the Values Wars, Godless Americana: Race and Religious Rebels and the novelWhite Nights, Black Paradise.  She is a contributing editor for The Feminist Wire and founder of the Women’s Leadership Project, a feminist humanist high school mentoring program based in South L.A. She has also written and directed a short film based on White Nights, Black Paradise, which is due in Fall 2016.
Connect with the author!

Short and Sweet: The Melody of You and Me

Displaying mhollis blog tour banner.pngThis is actually my first NA review as well as novella review. It’s also my first blog tour and author interview! This is so exciting for me!!! I don’t think I could have picked a better story to do this with though; I really enjoyed this novella so much.

About the Book

Author: M. Hollis
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: September 29, 2016
Genre(s): New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, LGBT+
Page Number: 82

After dropping out of university and breaking up with her girlfriend of three years, Chris Morrison’s life is now a mind-numbing mess. She doubts that working at the small neighborhood bookstore is going to change that. The rest of her time is spent mostly playing guitar and ignoring the many messages her mother keeps sending her about going back to college.
But one day, an adorable and charming new bookseller waltzes her way into Chris’s life. Josie Navarro is sweet, flirty, and she always has a new book in her hands. The two girls start a fast friendship that, for Chris, holds the promise of something more. But is she reading too much into this or is it possible that Josie feels the same way?

 

The characters were all really relatable, especially Josie. I’m a ballerina and Filipino too, and I enjoyed reading about her performances. I loved how the characters were well balanced. Josie was really sweet but had a wild side. Chris on the other hand, was “a little bit more out there,” but also had a really sensitive and almost hesitant side. Also as an avid reader who loves hanging out in bookstores, it was nice to read with the majority of her scenes in that setting. My one potential issue was the point of view. This novella was written in third person present tense, which sometimes made the flow a little bit weird, but otherwise I loved everything else. Now, enough about my rambling, here’s the author herself!

 

What inspires you to write? Why did you decide to become an author?

Reading and watching good stories makes me feel inspired to do something of my own. Since I was very young I always loved creating stories in my head and I used to daydream about worlds that didn’t exist. I don’t think I had a moment where I decided to be an author, it’s just a need that I had inside of me all the time. Writing makes me feel so happy and I like to share these ideas with other people. The difference is that before this novella I only saw myself as an aspiring writer. Until other authors who I admire a lot called me a writer one day and I was like… Oh, why am I not calling myself a writer just because I’m not published yet? We need to believe in our dreams and in ourselves more often to make things happen. Writers are so often discouraged to go follow their dreams that we sometimes think it’ll never be possible. But it is possible. We just need to try and find the right support to keep you going.

Something that only later I understood was this mighty need to see myself in stories. When I was a kid and I’d watch something or read a book I’d invent a character in my head. I wrote my first book when I was 12 where I just created a whole new magic world with a female Harry Potter, and the story was set in my city. Today I know I was just creating some kind of fanfiction, but this was just a fun thing I did to pass the time. I didn’t see enough female characters in most media as the protagonists so I made my own stories.

I want to write stories where everyone can see themselves. And maybe inspire authors to write their own stories someday.

 

What was your inspiration for this book? Are any of your passions reflected in these characters?

This book project started because I wanted to write a cheesy F/F love story. I was in the middle of editing my YA Brazilian manuscript and my friends who don’t understand Portuguese kept asking me to read my stuff. I sat down a week and wrote the first rough draft to see what I could come with. It was so fun and just what I needed at the time.

There are so many stories about how sad and miserable LGBT people are and I want to write books where we can just be happy. I’m glad that lately, we have many authors bringing this kind of stories, and I think we’ll never have enough of them.

My passions are always defining my stories, definitely. All my characters have a little bit of me in them. I like to think that I put all of them into a little box, mix many different personalities from people I know and then when I open the box again these amazing characters come out of it. Chris has my love for music, Josie my love for books, and Lily and I have the same grumpy personality.

 

Do you have any plans for additional novels or novellas? Can you share an excerpt from anything?

Yes! I am writing the first draft of the sequel of The Melody of You and Me. I can’t share any excerpt so soon into my process, but I can tell what it is about. Lily is our next protagonist and we’ll see how things are for everyone a year after the first novella. I plan to write four different F/F love stories set in the same universe. All of them are really distinct from each other but sweet and fun to read.

 

I noticed that you mentioned some contemporary authors in Josie’s book collection. Who are some of your favorite authors?

Tess Sharpe, Libba Bray, Marie Lu, GL Tomas, Siera Maley, and Ella Lyons.

 

What is your writing process like? Do you outline first or create characters first?

I outline and create characters at the same time. Usually, I take a day to outline everything in a story. It’s not hard for me to come up with the initial plot because it’s always when I have the most fun. My characters are the heart of my story, I can’t think about the plot without having them always very real into the process.

Then I go to the long writing process. First I write a rough draft with no stops for edits where I just throw all the scenes into the file without caring about how messy they are. After that, I rewrite word by word. Once I read it and feel that the story is good enough I start to look for beta readers to give me feedback. We go back and forth many times until we are all satisfied with a final product.

 

What is a typical day for you like?

I’m the most boring person ever, to be honest. I just stay at home reading, writing and editing many things at the same time.

 

Why did you decide to make this a novella rather than a novel?

Because at first, I was writing this just to have fun and share a nice F/F story with my friends. This is my first original work in English and I wasn’t sure if people would actually like it. I’m Brazilian so everything I write is in Portuguese, except my fanfiction that I usually write in English.

A novel would take me years and years. A novella is shorter and more of what I like to write. I’m used to this size of plot and work. My stories are always fast paced and simple because I don’t like when a book keeps going around in circles. It’s something I need to work with in my writing so that I can work with bigger stories in the future.

 

I’m a big Josie fan, so I have to ask. Is there anything about her that got cut out of the story?

That makes me so happy! Josie is such a sweet character. I wrote her inspired by my friend Sue, who is also Filipino. We met through our love for books and I really wanted to honor our friendship here in my first story.

Nothing was really cut in this novella. I wanted to make sure that everything from my original idea was there on the page. But I can share a little bit of extra info! She is only going to be working at Johnson’s bookstore for more one or two months because she is going to start an internship at Lillac U in her next semester. I thought about adding this in the last chapters, but there was a lot going on for her already at the moment.

 

How do you come up with character names?

Sometimes the name just comes to my mind right away. But usually, I research many baby name sites and test different ones until I find the name that matches the character perfectly.

 

What is your opinion on NA LGBTQ+ representation today? What can we do to help improve it?

I think New Adult is still far from being good at LGBTQ+ representation. Unfortunately, I still have a feeling that not all identities have the same space in the market and for readers. There is a hard acceptance of F/F books that hurts my heart. I’ve talked with writers that feel honestly scared to write books about girls who like girls because it won’t sell as well as M/M or M/F. We need to work on that and readers need to give a chance to F/F stories. There is also the fact that so much of M/M is being written by cishet women and own voices by male writers don’t get the same attention as these. Something we all have to work in being better at when we read and support these books. I have so much to say about the prejudice some parts of the LGBT community face in the book community but I don’t want to extend myself here too much. Haha.

Readers need to share their love for these books. They need to really hype books with LGBT characters and written by LGBT authors. Authors need to support each other and bring these books to the forefront, this way readers will be able to find them. Because they exist, but people don’t know about them or they don’t care enough to buy them and recommend them. I’ve met so many amazing authors lately that are supporting me in my journey and I wouldn’t be publishing this novella without them. The Twitter community is amazing and does such a good work to share our stories and voices; I couldn’t be more thankful for that.

 

About the Author

M. Hollis could never decide what to do with her life. From the time she was a child, she has changed her ideas for a career hundreds of times. After writing in hidden notebooks during classes and daydreaming during every spare moment of her day, she decided to fully dedicate herself to her stories. When she isn’t scrolling around her social media accounts or reading lots of femslash fanfiction, you’ll find her crying about female characters and baking cookies.
Connect with the author!