Today we're excited to chat with Brooklyn James author of
Read on for more about Brooklyn and her book, plus a giveaway!
Meet Brooklyn James!
Brooklyn James is an author/singer-songwriter who savors any opportunity to blend books with music. Her first novel, The Boots My Mother Gave Me, has an original music soundtrack and was an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Quarter Finalist. Out of Boots grew a platform where it was Brooklyn's honor to serve as a guest speaker with a focus on awareness and prevention of domestic violence and suicide. Her latest speaking engagements centered around accessibility, rights, and choice in birth, as well as writing workshops on how to put pen to paper composing one's own birth story with the release of her birth memoir, Born in the Bed You Were Made: One Family's Journey from Cesarean to Home Birth. Brooklyn holds an M.A. in Communication, a B.S. in both Nursing and Animal Science, and lives in Texas Hill Country with her husband and two children.
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Meet Just Shelby!
A secret note square found in a handmade guitar proves that small town gossip is not only ubiquitous but occasionally true. This gossip comes with strings rivaling those on Ace Cooper’s guitar, the safest strings he will ever have around his heart.
Ace’s father warns him to stay away from the Lynn girl. Daughter of a deceased bootlegger and a barely living addict, Shelby Lynn is no stranger to small town contempt. She keeps her nose in the books and feet to the ground, a college scholarship the only escape from her tumultuous life.
As Ace’s heartstrings unravel, so does his family’s role in Shelby’s broken past. Thrust into a precarious journey of their roots brimming with music and betrayal, the two have never been closer…to the truth of how Shelby’s father died. One truth transforms every facet of their lives forever.
A dual POV friends-to-first-love story, Just Shelby is an unsuspecting mystery that depicts how growing together can sometimes hurt worse than growing apart.
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~ Author Chat ~
YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
Trying my pen at YA Contemporary Romance grew out of a reading slump that led my TBR list in the refreshing direction of dual POV YA reads. Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor & Park was my first and I was instantly hooked. In retrospect, I was in a bit of a writing slump as well, Just Shelby slowly coming to life as a single POV Adult draft. As soon as I took it in the direction of dual POV YA, new and expeditious life came to the script, energizing yet challenging all the same. The detail I relished most about writing YA is the freedom to explore endings that are uplifting and inspiring without being quintessential happy-ever-after endings.
YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?
This is the first book that I've written where I identified as much, if not more, with the male protagonist as with the female protagonist, in large part due to Ace's musical aspirations and his strained relationship with his father because of those aspirations. Given that and his character development within the story, Ace is my favorite character in the book.
YABC: Do you have a favorite writing snack?
I start out with a cup of high-octane coffee, heavy on the raw cream, and then transition to water and grass-fed beef jerky.
YABC: Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?
Rare is the overnight bestseller. Just keep writing. Keep learning, crafting, evolving. Read a lot and write more. Or vice versa? Grow thick skin. Be grateful for reviews, good and bad. Let unfavorable reviews fuel improvement not offense. You can't please everybody, but you can always improve. Cling to flattering reviews, the wind in your writing sails. Someone got something out of your story; that is a beautiful thing.
YABC: What do you like most about the cover of the book?
The Just Shelby cover was designed by Sarah Hansen of Okay Creations. She is magic! I love the simplicity of the cover. Although the vibrant turquoise, a symbolic color within the novel itself, makes it a standout. It's unique and whimsical and mysterious altogether, a great representation of the characters and the story.
YABC: What’s on your TBR pile?
I just finished listening to Written in My Own Heart's Blood (Outlander, Book 8) on Audible and rereading Where the Crawdads Sing in hardcover. Can't get enough of that book! For our homeschool curriculum, we are reading The Call of the Wild in paperback. I've started Heart Bones and I Can Be A Better You on my E-reader. Up next on my TBR, I have All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, Recommended for You, and Grown. I added Recommended for You and Grown after seeing the features right here on YABC!
YABC: What’s up next for you?
As an indie author/singer-songwriter, I often work on a book and then on music or occasionally work on both simultaneously as with my first novel, The Boots My Mother Gave Me, which comes with an original music soundtrack, making for a unique Audible experience. The music element of Just Shelby inspired a new run of songs that we are working on at Wonderland Studios, Austin, Texas. So that is first on the agenda for me, getting a few new singles and videos turned out in 2021. I am outlining two other novels in the meantime, one Adult and one YA. If Just Shelby is well received, we will follow-up with an audiobook as well.
YABC: Which was the most difficult or emotional scene to narrate?
Narrating the scenes involving Shelby's mother, Maisy, were the most difficult only because of the addiction Maisy struggles with. The topic itself requires such sincerity. My first novel was inspired by overcoming an abusive childhood where my father struggled with alcoholism, a catalyst in his abuse, for years before his suicide. The effects of addiction are quite raw to me. But Just Shelby is a story of redemption. In that respect, writing Maisy's character was satisfying and pivotal to the outcome.
YABC: Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?
Drafting is more enjoyable in the freedom that it provides. With an affinity for imperfection, drafting suits me. I tend to think and draft in fragments, which inherently establishes meter, rhythm. Often a cadence that is bound not by grammar and syntax. Maybe it's the songwriter in me. Unfortunately flow/feel does not necessarily equate to clarity. Thus there is the revising, the editing, the true work, where everything must be perfect and grammatically correct. Revising is both rewarding and discouraging to me. As lines shape up, become polished, the meter changes here and there. Anxiety sets in. My adrenals take flight: That's not the way I wanted to say it. It feels different now. The rhythm morphs. But then the work comes to a close…and it is so much better. Hemingway nailed it when he said, "The first draft of anything is shit."
YABC: Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart?
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Out of the release of my first novel grew a platform where it was my honor to serve as a guest speaker with a focus on awareness and prevention of domestic violence and suicide. Any month is a good month to acknowledge and lift up the voices of domestic violence survivors.
By: Brooklyn James
Publisher: Self-Published; Arena Books, Austin, Texas
Release Date: October 27th, 2020
There will be three winners. One winner will receive a Signed Book/Candle Gift Set to include a Limited Edition Book Scent "Gray Fog," a fall scent, and a winter scent. Two winners will each receive a Signed Book. ~ (US Only)
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