Author: KCjohnson

#YAwithsoul

YA interrobang recently did an article on the importance of own voices when a hashtag went viral with #yawithsoul. Check out the article and some of my tweets below.

#YAwithSoul and the enduring struggle for inclusion

YAwithsoul

There was nothing more twitter fulfilling then the night Justina Ireland’s concept of how YA would be so different with a little bit of soul. I immediately jumped in to join the tweet fest because I’ve had a piece of my writing struggle to conform to the current cannon and structure of YA. Since then, I’ve felt a lifting in my writing that has connected my story closer and closer to #ownvoices in two projects I’d been struggling with. So with each tweet there was this inside connection I got with so many authors who think and laugh at the same things.  Here were some of my favorite tweets I did, and a more thorough and detailed story by YAinnterobang that discusses #YAwithsoul (and includes one of my tweets).

 

 

 

For the article with more interviews and details on the importance of #YAwithsoul check out: http://www.yainterrobang.com/yawithsoul/

 

PitchSlam! Team Death Eaters!

Photo used on #teamdeatheaters site

Photo used on #teamdeatheaters site

I’ve been so busy I haven’t had time to celebrate being selected for PitchSlam Hogwarts addition. I kept up with the twitter reveal the night before, disappointed I wasn’t selected, but excited for my friends who were. When I woke up the next morning, ready to get on a plane at 5:00 a.m., my phone notifications were blowing up! My critique group and twitter friends shared I was selected for the Dark Lord surprise #teamdeathers, voted on by all of the Hogwarts team leaders. And MARISOL was in the mix, along with some awesome thrillers, suspense, horror, and other “dark” stories! After much squeeing, OMG’s, and thank you’s for being picked, I got on a plane feeling as high as we were flying in the sky!

My entry did well, which you can see here! https://pitchslam.wordpress.com/2015/10/23/death-eaters-marisol/

Write Inclusively Contest

SC Writer header for the Write Inclusively Campaign

SC Writer header for the Write Inclusively Campaign

I made it in the Write Inclusively contest for my brand new YA Psychological Thriller MARISOL!

SC writer started the Write Inclusively campaign as a way to push the publishing industry in order to not only publish diverse books, but look at institutional systems withing the industry in order to grow diverse books and diversifying representation of authors, agents, and publishing community.

When I heard about this contest I polished my second manuscript so it would be ready. Thank you to my wonderful critique partners and beta readers who helped me get my manuscript in shape.

Here’s a sneak look at my entry: http://scwrite.blogspot.com/2015/09/wi-9-marisol-ya-psychological-thriller.html

#TEAM MYSTERY for New Agent Contest

Being selected for Team Mystery in Michelle Hauck’s NEW AGENT contest was an overwhelming feeling of excitement. Having actual agent requests was icing (like really good cream cheese frosting) on the top! Max Wirestone was my fearless leader and I made some great writer connections with my fellow teammates (5 other incredible writers).

My final entry can be found on Michelle Hauck’s blog http://www.michelle4laughs.com/2015/07/new-agent-8-her-only-escape-ya.html

Max Wirestone’s TeamMystery selections can be found here http://maxwirestone.com/2015/07/20/teammystery-revealed/

maxwirestone.com post photo for his #TeamMystery selections

maxwirestone.com post photo for his #TeamMystery selections

#MyWritingProcess Blog Hop

Creative Commons License for photo

I’ve been tagged by A.G Henley (http://www.aghenley.com), author of the Brilliant Darkness trilogy and a member of the Infinite Inkling authors collaborative (infiniteinkauthors.com), to participate in this blog hop about my writing process. Check out A.G’s blog to read about her writing process. And if you love dystopian, check out book one in her series (The Scourge) it’s got ZOMBIES and an unconventional story with an MC who is blind. AMAZING book!

Well here is a little insight into my writing process…

1)     What am I working on?

I’m in the final stages of putting my agent submission package together for Her Only Escape, a Young Adult suspense novel, and looking forward to finishing the last third of the draft for Crossing Angela, a YA psychological thriller. I was extremely fortunate to find fabulous critique partners and an incredible content and developmental editor, for my first novel. I can’t wait to get my new project to beta readers for the revision process this summer.

Numerous project ideas have bubbled up over the past two years. I track them with a two-page synopsis, so I don’t lose an exciting story when I’m working on another manuscript. The shiny new project idea for writers is always the enemy because jumping around can stall you from finishing a novel. I keep my little babies in check this way, as hard as it is to ignore the story building in my mind.
2)     How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Sometimes it feels like everything has been said or done already regardless of the genre. The projects I enjoy writing about are Young Adult suspense, thrillers, and psychological stories, which seemed abandoned in the market with the rise of dystopia, vampires, and other strange happenings. Fortunately for me, I think lovers of YA are finding their way back to the genre I love the most.

A notable difference with my work is, my characters are diverse. Their diversity is not intended to be the storyline, just an additional depth to the story often left out of novels today. It’s surprising how empty this space has been for authors/publishers to consider, especially with the diverse generation of young people growing up.

In regards to suspense and thrillers, I weave stories that aren’t just one dimension. They’re fast paced, exciting, and have you flipping through the pages. They also have to have mystery, friendship or love interest, and characters with depth that make you care about who they are.

3)     Why do I write what I do?

I write my genre because I love plotting and solving mysteries. I’m the one in front of the screen or book who solves it before most people do. I thrive on figuring it out all out, and breaking down bad plot lines or analyzing how a writer made it all come together. This obsession makes it difficult when I write as new ideas always creep up.

4)     How does your writing process work?
writing with baby

I’ve had a creative mind since I was little. My dreams play out like epic stories. For years I’ve woken up in the middle of the night to think, dang that dream would be a good movie. About two years ago, I wrote down my dream before I could forget. This led me to think about it for days, and how Her Only Escape was first created.

I let all my new ideas marinate this way before I write a quick synopsis. With each story, I know the major twist or plot point for the end, although not all the details. Then, I take my synopsis and make up sections for chapters to build the skeletons of my novel. Some are full chapters; others are a sentence or two. This keeps me motivated when it feels like I’ll never finish a draft. This happens fairly quickly.

Once I have my draft, I send it to my younger sister. She’s always the first to read my work. Someone who I know will get back to me quickly, and keep my positivity up. It’s important to find someone in your corner for the early development stages. When I get it back, I edit, revise, edit, revise and then send to beta readers. Revise, edit, beta readers, and repeat till I’m satisfied.

One of the challenges with a writing process is; it often changes based on life. I write my best work when I can dedicate time almost every day or do binge writing a few days in a row. And coffee, lots of coffee. This is hard to manage with a full time non-writer job. Now with a newborn baby, I have to reset my strategy. Leading up to having the baby, coffee went out the door and was replaced with six months of morning sickness. My little angel is here now and she sleeps, eats, and poops all day long. I have to choose between, eating, showering, taking a nap, and manage to care for my family. For the first 6 weeks I was in disbelief that I could ever fit in any writing time. I’ve recently found that I can put my baby in a baby sling and write at the same time. In fact I wrote this entire post with her in my sling!

Well that’s my writing process

Up next on the #mywritingprocess blog hop for April 16, is a wonderful author I met at the Willamette Writers conference in Oregon last fall.

1) Fonda Lee, the author of ZEROBOXER, an upper YA science fiction novel being published by Flux in April 2015. She lives in Portland, Oregon (land of rain, hipsters, and Powell’s Books). When she is not writing she can be found training in kung fu or searching out tasty breakfasts. You can find Fonda’s Writing Process at www.fondalee.com and on Twitter @fondajlee

 

How I Identify Myself

Picture courtesy of http://www.diversifya.com/

How do you identify yourself?

I identify myself as an African American. To some, this category holds narrowly defined stereotypes. To me, it is a broad spectrum for a large and diverse community. My self-identification isn’t one that is “traditionally” accepted by some because my mother is African and my father is White. There are times in my life when I identify as African or multi-racial, a woman, a mother, a sister, a friend, a west coaster, but the one I feel is always me and always home is African/Black American. For more of this interview see: http://www.diversifya.com/cultural-and-ethnic/diversifya-kim-johnson/

DJ turn it up up up up…

Spinning The Records by mmilin32, on Flickr
<img title=”Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License” src=”http://i.creativecommons.org/l/by/2.0/80×15.png”

Creative Commons License

I recently took my writing cap off and put on a DJ hat, spinning ones and two’s, for my book playlist for HER ONLY ESCAPE (formerly known as SENSORY DREAMS). It was such a blast to put together. It pushed me even deeper to know my characters by finding a song that speaks to their situation or internal issues they are contemplating. Getting out of my own head and style of music was a challenge because the songs represent my characters and not me, but know I’m in love with a whole new genre of Indie/Electronic/Pop.

Check out my guest blog post on YA Misfits Band Geek Thursday http://www.yamisfits.com/2013/07/band-geek-thursday-guest-post-from-kim.html

Getting the Respect YA Deserves

Shock-ed by CarbonNYC, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  CarbonNYC 

Photo Creative Commons License

By Kim Johnson

What do dystopian, suspense, thrillers, and contemporary romance have in common? A whole lot of awesome if it’s Young Adult fiction.

Being a writer and reader of YA allows me to clench my teeth into a story and push away the busy reality of adulthood. Rewind to a time of awkwardness and self-indulgence– the teenage years.

My favorite passion is YA, but for someone who works in academia, it is often an area that is rife with ridicule from my peers or colleagues. Which is interesting because so many of the issues that are tackled in this genre reflect the layers of issues facing college students– a population I work with on a daily basis. Independence, challenging authority, finding out who you are, struggling with inner demons and secrets, first love and friendships are all plights that are commonalities in fiction and reality.

So why is YA bashed so much?

For my field I get it. I do. My colleagues are in a higher education environment where some of the most intelligent and highbrow conversations are held. The critical thinking minds break down every level of a historical, political, and social context. This excites me. I use theoretical premises in my practice of work and actively participate in this dialogue. I’m well respected in my field and proud of the work I do. But something funny happens when you tell your fellow colleagues you’re writing a book.

Their eyes light up with excitement. Overjoyed that finally there will be a voice of reason within whatever realm I decide to tackle. And then I explain,

Me: “Oh it’s not a non-fiction analysis of higher education.”

Okay. Eyebrows raised. But they still hold hope that whatever I will write will comprise of bettering our chaotic world.

They ask more and I state,

Me: “I’m writing fiction.”

Them: “Yes wonderful. Like the Color Purple, or retelling slave narratives? No let me guess, you’re finally going to write something that will get Tyler Perry out of the market with his ridiculous images of Black women and family relationships?”

Me: “Well no. I’m writing Young Adult Fiction.”

Them: “Huh? Young Adult? Like black youth characters celebrating Obama as President?”

Me: “No more like Twilight. Harry Potter. Hunger Games etc.”

Them: “WHAT? Long lines, teenagers screaming, that sort of thing?”

Me: “I guess if I make it big. But more likely just a good story.”

Them: “Oh. But will your characters be the Black version?”

Me: “Umm there will be diverse characters at times yes.”

Them: “But why would you write this genre when you could…..”

If you’re a writer or reader of this genre you’ve heard it all. Even the most famous YA writers don’t get the respect that they do.

So why do I continue to write in this genre?

Well the answer is I love YA. I hope to demystify what’s expected of a YA book. Excite young people (and oldies like me) to read, and tell an exciting story while addressing certain topics.

When I share this with THEM they wish me luck. But this paradigm I face in writing YA and working in a different field is frustrating. Why is it such a phenomena to struggle getting respect for this genre? If it was fiction similar to Stephen King or James Patterson there wouldn’t be such a shock factor. What challenges have you seen when people find you write or enjoy reading YA. What as YA writers and Readers can we do to change this paradigm? What about those of us who love are craft but are over shadowed by controversial writers that become extremely popular but don’t represent the craft we love and adore so much?