Interview with Joy L. Smith

Joy L. Smith is an up and coming YA novelist. She writes characters as diverse as they are powerful and inspiring–Joy is one incredible human bean. You can find her on twitter @JoyJoyWrites.   What characters and themes do you like to write about and what inspires them? I think the main thing about the […]

Interview with Joy L. Smith

Sonora was kind enough to pick my brain on my writing and inspiration. I had so much fun answering the questions. I feel like if I were being asked these questions in person I would jusy have ellipses, but it was nice to be able to think not so much on the spot about my process and my favortie part of writing. The characters.

Here’s to more interviews in the future!

Joy πŸ™‚

Quarantine Reads Pt 2.

I’ve recently moved which means I’ve recently gotten a new bookshelf, which means I’ve been reading quite a bit. My sister and I have made it a habit to grab a book, a snack and start turning pages. It’s very relaxing and we often listen to our vinyls and music as we dive into the world of these characters.

So far I’ve read:

  • Clap When You Land- Elizabeth Acevedo
  • With the Fire On High- Elizabeth Acevedo
  • The Voting Booth- Brandy Colbert
  • On the Come Up- Angie Thomas
  • Full Disclosure- Camryn Garrett

There’s so much to like about each book. I’ll highlight what makes them all unique.

Clap When You Land- Written in typical stunning verses of Elizabeth Acevedo. It’s filled with colorful language that almost makes you forget that a tragedy brings two sisters together. Sisters! Who doesn’t love a story about sisters especially when it’s done in dual POV? Liz has a way of making you root for her characters. She’s a true wordsmith. Her prose brings everything to life. There’s like a beating heart in her stories.

With the Fire on High– Again Elizabeth Acevedo does what she does best. Although not in verse her story of a teen mother who loves to cook hit my heart. This story smelled GOOD. I was completely invested in the life of Emoni. I was ready to open my own wallet that’s how sucked in I was.

The Voting Booth- Told in the span of one day Brandy Colbert gives us story that I never thought about. First voters. It was political without being political. There was conversations that I would’ve loved to have open to me as a first time voter. I was genuinely stressed which I think was the point of this romance. That’s the thing. Voting should be simple and easy. But it isn’t, but loving this book was.

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas reminded me of how I wanted to be a rapper when I was a kid, and for sure didn’t have that It factor. I’m so used to listening to my showtunes and Oldies that this book reminded me I grew up on Hip Hop. And the rhymes were lit and the love story had me swooning and blushing. Such a fun read with so many messages about the image you put out there. Angie is good for weaving in social justice with every day life.

Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett stands out for being written by a teenager. That was a first for me. Also the subject matter of HIV that isn’t a time piece or subject to a gay man. So important. And I loved of course the musical theater tidbits as a certified theater nerd myself. There’s a lot to unpack in this story, but the driving force for me is that it shined a light on a group of society that is often overlooked. The children born with HIV and how they navigate not only their health but the stigma and social pressure of dating and disclosing.

Reading was one of my favorite pastimes that got taken over by other pressures of life, so getting back into it makes me so giddy and amped to write a book that will make someone else feel the way that I do when I read. That being said I have so much room on my new shelves so I need to get on adding to them.

Happy reading,

Joy πŸ™‚

Quarantine Reads

Long time no visit to this blog. This blog is super dusty and full of cobwebs, but that just adds character.

Soooooo what have I been up to this quarantine? Working luckily. There was a time where furlough was winking at me, but I’ve been safe and healthy and working from home, which as a teacher has been very eye opening for my inaugural full time teaching year.

While I’ve been home I’ve been ordering and reading a lot books! Being at home has really left a lot of time for me to read more than I had, had the time.

Here’s what I’ve read so far:

  • The New David Espinoza by Fred Aceves. A YA book of toxic masculinity and body dysmorphia from a writing buddy. I got a shout out in the author’s note! It was a quick important own voices book that I think is not covered in YA a lot from the male perspective.
  • Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid. I don’t read Adult fiction much, but wow when I do I am typically blown away. This book is special because unlike a lot of Adult novels I read I actually saw myself in the main character. She was mid twenties and just wanting to live her life and make her money babysitting when she gets profiled by a security guard thinking she kidnapped the child she’s paid to watch. It was honest and real and relatable and I loved the voice so much. I will always recommend it.
  • When the Stars Lead To You by Ronni Davis. A YA novel of a summer love that blossomed staring a Biracial protagonist who dreams of working with stars. This book touched on mental health a lot which is always great in YA, as well as social class and how it gets tricky when you’re dating someone with money. It’s a perfect beach read.
  • The Only Black Girls in Town by Brandy Colbert. Brandy is my favorite YA author, and her debut middle grade about a Black girl who gets a neighbor who looks like her in her small beach town is monumental. I love that there was a hint of mystery in the story, and the easy, age appropriate but not watered down talk about race is so needed in middle grade and there was no need to add huge trauma and black pain. Brandy has a way of seamlessly adding in diversity with gay parents and surrogacy and friendships. It’s a must read MG novel.

I’ve enjoyed all the books I’ve read so far. Hope to pick up some more books soon(in the middle of With the Fire On High), but I’ve been focusing on my writing when I’m not reading picture books. I think I’ll post a blog of my favorite picture books.

What books have you all been reading during quarantine?

Stay safe,

Joy πŸ™‚

I Shot For The Stars

Hellooooo,

I feel like there should be an echo for this blog. It’s safe to say that blogging is not my strongest feature, even about something that is a big part of my life like writing and reading and theater. I was looking over my goals for the new year and so ashamed that most of what’s on it has not been accomplished. That’s okay though, I have 6 more months until the new year.

So instead of completely scrapping said ideas, I do want to amend them a bit. For one I hope to have a draft of at least one if my WIPs done by the end of August. I have yet to start my MG WIP, but that’s because I have so many YAs that take over my brain space. And as far as my adult novel goes it pretty much follows the reason I don’t have a MG.

I wish I was better at this blogging thing though. If I’m not working on my writing, I’m watching TV or a movie and working so that’s my time mostly. When I did book reviews I was more consistent. Should I do that again? I have read a lot of books since my last review. I’m sure I could back log a lot of bookish thoughts.

Books in my queue:

  • With the Fire On High
  • An Epic Love Story
  • On the Come Up

I’m sure there are others I’m missing.

I doubt any followers of mine were missing me. So if you’re out there. Hey, again, I’ll try to be more active on this blog.

Later,

Joy πŸ™‚

Goals

I was never one to set goals for the new year. This year I will try. There are so many goals I have for myself both writerly and personally. So here goes. First up is the writerly ones in no particular order:

  • Sell a book. It looks so simple but it’s not, and it’s a goal I know I can make this year.
  • Finish WIP. I have 2 in the queue that are close to being done. I love both of them dearly. They need a lot of work, but with focus I can get them to a good place.
  • Work on my craft. I can do better. I can write better.
  • Start MG project. I’ve been wanting to branch into writing for younger readers and never found the voice. This is the year I’m going to make a stronger effort.
  • Start Adult project. As much as I love writing YA I would like to start an adult novel as well. Test the waters.
  • Read more adult fiction. I love reading YA but I would like to expand my collection.

I feel good about this year and what I can accomplish. So if you care to find me…

Look to the western sky,

Joy πŸ™‚

The Long Haul

When I started taking writing seriously in High School I didn’t know if it was something I saw myself doing forever. Sure, I wanted to be published and even thought I could be before I graduated HS. Now that I look back on it I can laugh at myself. Just who did I think I was? While I considered myself a good writer I was nowhere near publishable.

Although I was surrounded by talented writers and professionals through the Girls Write Now program I was so blind to what being a traditional or even self published is. So much goes into it. So much that even I now as an agented writer I don’t get fully.

I changed my major from undeclared to Creative writing the semester before winter break in college. I felt good about it. Couldn’t wait to continue my love of writing and learn. But I didn’t return back to it. Or school. Life got in the way.

When I did go back to school I majored generally picking courses that interested me. I wasn’t creatively writing, but I missed it. It wasn’t until my junior year of college when I was majoring in communication disorders and super stressed out that I fell back into writing. Oh man I was so happy. I began to look into traditional publishing and the steps to being an author.

I’ve been lucky I would say. Good productivity. A great agent. Lots of story ideas. I’m reading more. All I want to do now is write. It would be great if I could make a living out of my stories, and it is a goal of mine, but the clearer goal for me is longevity. I want so much to someone’s favorite.

Right now my writing goal is to keep pushing out stories. Stories people want to read, can relate to or find enjoyable. If I can stay on the scene that would be awesome. I suppose that’s what a lot of authors want.

So I ramble to say I’m in it for the long haul. Nothing makes me happier than to write and tell stories.

Joy πŸ™‚

BOOK REVIEW: LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE

The summer’s been really busy with work. I did manage to finish a book though. Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere is the equivalent to those movies you know will be an Oscar contender. It’s literary lush. I think that’s a saying.

There’s so much to say about this book. I am a fan of anyone who can keep track of so many characters, and still manage to help the reader get and understand all of them. Amazing. Inspiring. Ng makes me want to write in 3rd person one day. One day I will be brave.

What else can I say? The prose. Beautiful but if you’ve read Ng’s work before you’d already know that she is a wordsmith. Her way with metaphors, characterization, location and feelings just build and build until you’re like this is brilliant.

The best part is I had no clue how it was going to end. I thought one thing from the opening pages, but by the end I didn’t expect what happened.

Another thing was the court case involving transracial adoption. So much to think on. Ng laid it on thick and I’m glad that the topic wasn’t skated over. It made me uncomfortable and I appreciate that.

So if you’re looking for a book where the words are silky smooth goodness. The characters live and dance way after the story ends, and for little fires , this book is for you.

I didn’t mean to make this whole thread into a book review, but it had to be said. As for me I’m coming out of a little writing slump. I’m so close to finishing this draft and then revising it to make it the best that it can be. This story means a lot to me and I want to do right by it.

Finishing a second full novel is a lot harder than I expected it to be. I found my first manuscript to be easier. My life was a lot different then. I was in school, my responsibilities were lower. I didn’t have an agent then. There wasn’t this sense of ruining a chance to be published. Or not impressing my agent again.

I tend to be hard on myself and hate disappointing people, but I realize there is no formula for how one writes their stories. It’s like having kids. Just because they come from the same mother, doesn’t mean the experience is going to be the same or even easier. That’s okay. I’m working through it.

This book life is not for the faint of heart. A little challenge never hurt nobody though.

Ta ta,

Joy πŸ™‚

Reading Lately

I’m happy to say I’ve been reading a lot lately. In big book news I got an ARC of FINDING YVONNE by Brandy Colbert herself. My first ARC ever and from one of my favorite authors. And I got to go to Langston Hughes House and get all of my Brandy books signed. That was a great day.

Safe to say I had a great time and experience there.

I devoured Finding Yvonne over a few days on my train ride to work. The writing is simple and efficient. Yvonne has a clear voice, and she was relatable in a lot of ways. I played viola for a year in fifth grade so I feel like I “get” how Yvonne feels.

Plus I got a lot of Waitress the musical vibes when it came to the baking scenes. All I kept singing was “Mama it’s amazing what baking can dooooooooooo ooooo…” Y’all know what part I’m talking about.

It had a twist I wasn’t expecting at all. Loved Part Two to the story. Had me in stitches. I cannot wait for my hardcover to get here to match her sister books.

What else have I been reading? I read The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo.

I will be picking up her other books. The voice in this one was amazing. The diversity was so good too. It’s nice to read about other people of color sometimes. There was a single dad plot like Finding Yvonne. Clara was such a big personality to read. I found it nice to read about such a prankster girl.

Then there was Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now.

Where do I start with this book. I loved it so much. This book just vibes with me so well. I want the movie. I need the movie. There was so much drama, but it went together so well. The blackness, the sisterhood and all the craziness of being unapologetically you. Reading about Marcus and how he is who he is. The book is a recipe of feels and so real to life.

Up next I have Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. I absolutely cannot wait to start it. Celeste’s book Everything I Never Told You was the first adult novel I ever read. I’m sticking with what I know until I branch out more and find other authors I’ll like just as much.

Basically I’ve been reading my butt off and I like it. For the longest time I didn’t read for fun after High School. It feels great to jump back into it.

Byeeee,

Joy πŸ™‚

That Theater Life

When I’m not writing or watching TV I’m thinking about what my next theater experience will be. If I’m being completely unrealistic I would love to see a show twice a month. One play, one musical, but that doesn’t happen.

Last year was my personal best seeing A Bronx Tale, Jitney, Wicked(2nd time), Chicago, War Paint, The Prince of Broadway, Chicago(again), Hello Dolly, Waitress, The Play that Goes Wrong and Norm Lewis at 54 Below.

This year I’ve seen Miss Saigon, Beautiful and Mean Girls. I have tickets to see Hello Dolly again and I’m plotting to go see Children of A Lesser God and My Fair Lady.

My theater addiction is expensive. Some people might think it’s not smart to spend so much money for one night. And if you do it like me I have to have a nice dinner or lunch, t-shirt, magnet, window card and a cup. It adds up.

For me it is worth it. Live theater is amazing. I love the talent it takes to put on a show both on and off stage. It literally gives me life.

Go see your nearest touring production, regional, College or if you can come to NYC and see all that’s available. There is something for everyone with theater. That’s why I love it so much.

This is my rambling rant,

Joy πŸ™‚