09-20 Young Adult Author, Jamie Brazil

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Foodie Secrets of Japanese Documentary Filmmaking by Jamie Brazil

So I’d like to couch the last paragraph of this post with this statement: I believe Ruth Ozeki’s “My Year of Meats” is absolutely 100% true! Sure, the author claims this is a novel, but I know better since her fictional documentary experiences mirror my own real-life ones. She’s completely accurate. MYOM is the absolute real deal of what it’s like to work with a Japanese film crew.

The Japanese director I work with is obsessed with food. His #1 obsession is Korean barbeque, and he will travel hours out of his way to try out a new Korean restaurant. Seriously. I have learned that food is essential to the greater experience of making any documentary. It’s not just sustenance. Crew meals are wielded as a means of control, power, pleasure, and punishment.

Which brings me to “Oni the Lonely” (a book I wrote with my husband, who also works on Japanese documentaries and is entirely familiar with the world-wide quest for Korean barbeque). It’s a vegan-centric novel with demons, Buddhism, and a teenage protagonist battling a voracious appetite for chicken nuggets – despite being raised as a strict cause-no-suffering-to-others vegetarian.

How important is food – and MEAT – in novels? In all my pursuits, it seems to be a central theme. It plays as large a role in real life as it does on the page. It is a means of control, power, pleasure and punishment. A way to torture our protagonists and ourselves.

So here’s my secret foodie observation of Japanese documentary film making: When a day of filming sucks and everything is going wrong, we eat like the kings of Korean Barbeque… but when everything is going well and we can’t get enough great footage, it’s hello dollar menu. I once fed a crew of 5 for $17 at a Burger King in Flushing, NY. On another great shooting day, we ate 99-cent slices of cheese pizza made with questionable dairy products. Our intestines all paid a hefty price for that success.

This leaves me wondering if there is a food god in Japan. When things go well, we tend to focus on the job (or life). But when things change for the worse, do we make Korean barbeque offerings to the food gods to adjust our fates? I’ll have to do more research.

 Anyway, feast or famine, it all filters through to the page or screen eventually. Because it’s life, it’s passion, and it’s all good story telling. Right, Ms. Ozeki?

Mari Kato, 16, wants what everyone else her age wants: a driver’s license. Too bad a family curse, passed on by her Japanese-born Buddhist dad, who claims to be thousands of years old, transforms Mari into a flesh-eating Oni demon when she feels frustrated (like every time she gets behind the wheel). But when her geologist mom moves their vegan-lifestyle-obsessed family to Rock Creek, Mari stumbles upon the gates of Hell and a mining company plundering its depths. Add in an evil cheerleader determined to steal Mari’s first boyfriend and plunge the Earth into eternal darkness. Suddenly, getting the keys to the car isn’t as important as saving the world. Totally dealable… if she can find the courage to reveal her demon self.

Visit Jamie and learn more about her fiction and non-fiction books at 

Friday, September 19, 2014

My Favourite Romantic What?

Hi, I'm Pippa Jay, author of SciFi and the supernatural with a romantic soul. And I have a terrible confession to make. I am not primarily a romance reader. *hangs head in shame* Yep, you have a traitor in your midst! My home genre is SciFi, or perhaps speculative fiction since I read a little fantasy and paranormal too. A lot of early stuff I read wasn't labelled romance and I didn't recognize it as such until I discovered science fiction romance, but I read as much if not more non-romance.

But since discovering SFR, I've found that stories with romance woven into the speculative elements satisfy me a whole lot more than those without. I want stories that really make me feel something, not just entertain my imagination. The emotional rollercoaster is as important as the world building.

So when I first saw the topic title, I struggled. I definitely have some favourite romantic tropes now. Enemies to lovers is top of the list at the moment (and the theme of my last two SFR releases - Imprint in Tales of the SFR Brigade anthology, and Tethered), but I wasn't sure about what constituted a romantic cliche. Research time!

So I Googled Romantic Cliches and found this list. I read it all the way through...and couldn't find a single one that I liked. Maybe because the creator has focussed on the negative ones, or maybe because I haven't read enough romances. *slaps wrist* But I did come across a couple I've used.

"6. The heroine claims she can take care of herself as she steps on a rattlesnake and simultaneously shoots herself in the ear." 

Well, not a rattlesnake, but my heroine did insist she could take care of herself, then ran into an antagonist she really couldn't handle alone. So I guess that is a cliche I like. It's not that I wanted my hero charging in on a white horse to save her, but in this case it was the calamity necessary to get the hero to accept and embrace what he was and master his alien abilities in order to save her. Without that, he would have gone on denying what he could do, and she would have died.

"Nine Months Later…
32. The heroine has a secret child. So first, she most likely hasn’t used contraception. Second, she hasn’t told the hero that she’s expecting his child..."

Okay, I've done this one too. But I did make a big point about the lack of contraception, and reasons why the whole situation came about. I can't go into too much detail as this book hasn't even released yet. >.< But I felt I gave a reasonable explanation for the drama.

So are cliches a bad thing? I guess it depends on how much of a cliche the reader finds it, based on their reading history, and/or whether it's one they particularly hate or love, and how well an author tackles it or perhaps puts a new twist on it. Perhaps they even deliberately seek certain ones out. And maybe next year I'll have learned a bit more about them all.

Are there particular tropes you consider cliches? And are there particular ones you love or loathe?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Wake Me When September Ends

Yes, I know, we're talking romance clichés this month, but honestly, I have no opinion on them good or bad. I think the whole "love 'em/hate 'em" debate is more a writer's peeve than a reader's.  Reader's really don't care if your plot is overdone, or the characters have been there done that.  They just want a compelling story and if you're giving them that, they're going to buy it hook, line & sinker. 

So, anyway...because I'm such a rebel (haha) I'm going to random blog.

This Sunday marks a new season, Autumn, for those not keeping track because, like me, you live in a dessert where the only seasons we have are hot, hotter and hell.  I can't believe it's already mid September !  Man, where’d the year go? Or should I say years?  Seems like just yesterday I was a kid, laying in the grass watching the clouds drift across the sky and arguing with my brother that it was the earth rotating and not the clouds moving, and wondering what my life would be like when I got older and now here I am, fifty-something years old, with four grown children and still speaking a sentence in one breath.  

Like most everyone in the world, I was heartbroken by the death of Joan Rivers last month and watched a lot of the tributes to her played on TV. One thing that stuck out for me was a scene from the show she did with her daughter. It was before she was planning another plastic surgery and she told her daughter, (and I’m paraphrasing) “if it all ends tomorrow, it ‘s okay. It was a great life.”   I have to say, I agree with this  statement when it comes to my own life.  Sure, there were some hard times, heartaches and days where I didn’t think life could suck any more than it did…..but I’ve lived by the adage, “what doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger” and I’ve repeated it during the bad times.  Things happen for a reason. If I hadn’t dealt with the crises of death, illness, heartbreak, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.  

I recently spent a couple of days in the hospital because my blood sugar levels were too high. In fact they’d been too high for nearly four months, I just didn’t pay attention to them because they’d been under control (and I never check them anyway--bad me).  I only checked that day because I figured the massive headache I was having was probably because of my sugars.  And, of course, they’d gotten so high that the meter didn’t register anything but the word HI…which meant they were well over 600…normal is 70 - 100.  So, even though I really didn’t feel like sitting in the ER, I decided to go ahead and go in so they could give me some insulin. And of course I ended up having to stay while they got the numbers down because by then, they’d topped 800 and if left to continue the incline, I’d have ended up in a coma or dead.  Yeah, that was my reality check and happy to say I’m back to normal and reading the signs better so I don’t end up that sick again. As great a life I’ve had, I’m not ready to see it end.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Boy Meets Girl

by Vivienne Lorret

Here at RTG, we’re talking about Romance Clichés this month. For me, they all boil down to the same basic elements of any good romance—boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back.

The boy in question can be a pirate, a CEO, the brother’s best friend... The same goes for the girl, for that matter. Put our heroine on a ship of her own, in that corner office calling all the shots, or even the girl next door...

As readers, we all have our auto-buy authors and storylines that pull us in time and time again, like that bag of Hershey’s Kisses with Almonds that whispers your name from the shelf. Buy me! You know we’re perfect for each other.

Before you know it, the cashier is ringing up two bags (because everyone needs a backup for those really awful days…and hey, you deserve it). Certain romance clichés do that, too. You know they won’t disappoint because you’ve read the same storyline dozens of times.

My clicker-finger tends to shoot for reunion stories. The hot hunky guy who broke the heroine’s heart (and is still a little rough around the edges), sees her for the first time in eons and suddenly can’t get enough of her. For me, these stories are about redemption and dealing with the demons of the past. I love how so many amazing authors put this storyline together. It’s new every time and yet, like that Hershey’s Kiss with Almonds, I know it’s exactly what I’ve been looking for.

My auto-buy authors at the moment are Candis Terry (who is just as incredible in person as she is on the page), Kristin Higgins (a-mazing!), and Jill Shalvis (writer-extraordinaire).

If you happen to enjoy historical romances with their own twist on classic tropes, check out my Wallflower Wedding Series from Avon Impulse.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Wake me up when the vampires get back...

I miss vampires.

Yeah. BDSM billlionaires and bad-boy bikers – and what are these guys but vampires without the bloodsucking? – they just don't do it for me.

Bring back the alpha vampire, and all the cliches that come with him. Undead angst! Destined mates! Fighting the inner monster! I'm getting all nostalgic here. Ready for some vampire silliness?

First of all, let's talk about vampire sex.

1) Your vampire should be extremely well-hung. Apparently this is an important criterion for choosing who should join the ranks of the undead. I'm not sure who checks these things – is there an inspection, or what? – but they're doing a great job.
2) Blood sucking is orgasmic. Instantly. Yes, apparently fainting from extreme and rapid blood loss feels gooood, baby.
3) The healing power of saliva. All bite wounds will close on contact. Probably it kills pain, too. This is amazing. Where do I get some?

Now for aesthetics. You have to get the look right.

Preferably, he should dress like a refugee from the Village People. Y'all know what I'm talking about. Black leather jackets and bare chests all the way. If he can wear some desperately manly jewelery, so much the better. And no facial hair. Ever.

See where the biker thing comes from? Mr. Vampire will definitely live on the shady side of life. Never just works a regular job. No middle management vamps need apply.

Probably he owns a nightclub, or at least spends a lot of his time in one. Still, it's not really clear why he should need to do anything to make a living. He's had centuries to make his fortune; he's the definition of filthy rich (billionaires, anyone?).

Oh, and he'll have a long-standing blood feud that must be satisfied. With werewolves. Or dark fae. Or another, More Evil Vampire. Anyone will do, really. Gives him something to be angry and brooding about while he's raging against his Inner Monster and falling for the heroine, who will of course be Too Delicious To Resist, no matter whether said vampire hero feeds on a dozen beautiful women a night, or has lived like a monk for a thousand years. He will totally lose his cool over her.

See, this is all a lot more fun than control freaks with whips, or tattooed petrol-head rock stars, or whatever they're buying in contemporary these days. I miss vampires. Wake me up when they get back.

How about you - do you miss vampires? Still reading paranormal, or have you switched to contemporary? Or do you still read both?


Monday, September 15, 2014

The Wallflower Gets Her Man

by Christy Carlyle

My favorite romance trope or cliche involves the wallflower. Maybe it's because I've always related to wallflowers. They tend to be overlooked and underestimated. Haven't we all felt that way at some point? And I like the variety of wallflowers. Some are shy, some too intellectual to fit in with the other silly girls, and some are rebellious, purposely flouting social conventions. Those are my favorite kinds of heroines.

My heroine, Elizabeth Ainsworth, in my first novella, Scandalous Wager, is a bit of a wallflower. She's overshadowed by her prettier, more accomplished sister, or at least she feels that she is. She's more interested in her work as a teacher than learning how to flirt and be a coquette. But the hero, Detective Inspector Ian Reed, has eyes only for Lizzy.

That's what I love best about wallflowers. Underestimated as they may be by those around them, they always get their man. Well, at least in romance novels. And they don't just get any man; they get the dishy hero. One of my favorite combinations is the wallflower with the bad boy/rogue/rake hero that truly has a heart of gold and simply needs the healing, transforming love of the heroine to become the man he was always meant to be. In my opinion wallflower + redeemable rake = great romance.

Fantastic historical romance author Maya Rodale is currently in the middle of an entire series devoted to wallflowers. Her third book in the series is due out this month, but I thoroughly enjoyed the first two: The Wicked Wallflower and Wallflower Gone Wild.

Emma Thompson as Elinor
Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility
And one of my all-time favorite authors, Jane Austen, seems to have had a real soft spot for wallflowers. Her heroine, Elinor Dashwood, from Sense and Sensibility was a bit of a wallflower. More sensible and emotionally reserved than her younger sister, Elinor doesn't attract much notice as she focuses on managing her family, and she stoically faces the loss of her chance at love. But Austen manages the plot so that Elinor gets her man and yet never compromises her own principles and personality.

This is a key to the best wallflower stories. It should be the very aspects of her character—those traits which classify her as a wallflower in the first place—which capture the hero's notice, admiration, and love. Being loved for her unique qualities makes the wallflower's victory that much sweeter.

Do you like wallflower stories? Do you have a favorite wallflower from romance or literature?

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Remembering My Teen Years and Writing About Them

By Lynn Lovegreen

Why do I write YA? Because I remember what it was like.

My young adult years were typical in many ways. My emotions kept me on a roller coaster, thanks mostly to hormones coursing through my body. There were big highs, and big lows. I recall being upset when my current crush didnt say hi back, or devastated when someone treated me badly. I remember thinking that my life was awful and I couldnt do anything about it. There were times when the prospect of entering the world out there was scary, and figuring out who I really was daunting. I wouldnt want to relive those days.

But there were highs as well as lows. I remember the giddy feeling of my first kiss, the excitement of performing in high school plays. I loved the school dances and the fun of Spanish club celebrations. Sometimes life was wonderful. The closeness I felt with my best friends was something Ive only matched with a few people since then. I have a lot of fond memories, too.

I dig into my younger years when I write. Most of my characters are young adults and feel the same kinds of things I did back then. I am drawn to describe what that was like, hoping it will help a teen reader to say, yes, Im not alone in this, or someone older to say, I remember that. Whether its 1900 or 1980 or today, teens have many of the same emotions. We can all relate.

That is why writing YA or NA is so rewarding. It’s about more than entertainment, although I hope my readers will be entertained, too. It’s about connections. The best compliment I’ve had was a review Julie B. Cosgrove did of Quicksilver to Gold. She said, “This is a great tale of embracing who you are, struggling to achieve your goals, and discovering the value of family.” She got what the character was going through, and that made my day.

When I was teaching, sometimes my students would ask me, “Would you go back to your teens if you could?” I always answered no, because I remember the bad as well as the good. But if my writing can help one young person through their own roller coaster ride, then I’ve done something worthwhile.

Book Blurb for Quicksilver to Gold, released Aug. 21st:
Thieves took their claims…Now she wants to steal his heart. Gold mining is in Jeannie Kelly’s blood. But it’s a dangerous time to be an honest miner in Nome, Alaska—claim jumpers have invaded the territory. Jeannie has set her sights on Clint Tilghman, the strong, quiet man next door to her family’s claim. Clint fights his feelings for the impulsive lady miner, fearing he’ll lose his independence. Jeannie tries to change her tomboyish ways to attract Clint and gain respect from others, but there’s a lot to learn amidst gunplay and bar fights. Jeannie must woo Clint and beat the claim jumpers before summer’s end.

Lynn Lovegreen grew up in Alaska, and still lives there. She taught English for 20 years before retiring to make more time for writing. She enjoys reading, hanging out with friends and family, and hitting targets with a cowboy action shooting club. 

Her young adult historical romances are set in the Alaska Gold Rush, a great time for drama, romance, and independent characters. 

See her website at You can also find her on Facebook, Tumblr, and Pinterest. 

Her novels Fools Gold, Quicksilver to Gold and novella Worth Her Weight in Gold are available through Prism Book Group or your favorite book vendor.