JJ: Blog Reviews

With Love For Books (Includes Interview)

For All the Books I’ve Loved So Far

The Writers Will

Lost in a Good Book

Hans M Hirschi

The Nerd Girl Review

Deep End Review

Adan Ramie

Eliza Andrews

Looseleaf Reviews


A Frolic Through Fiction


Live to Read


Cover2Cover Blog

Goodreads Reviews
Amazon Reviews

 

IF YOU SEE ANY OTHER REVIEWS YOU THINK I SHOULD KNOW ABOUT, PLEASE TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS <3

Let’s Talk Sex – In My Books

 

A question that I get asked a lot, especially after the release of Loving Lakyn, is why there aren’t any smut or sex scenes in Just Juliet. I often answer this in person, usually to the response of eyerolls or huffs or ‘well you could have done better’s. Sometimes this issue rolls right off my shoulders, because at the end of the day it doesn’t matter to me, Just Juliet is my book and I wrote it how I wanted to.

Other days, it leaves me feeling insecure and like I did something wrong. Like I hurt myself, my fanbase, and the community of queer girls. Today, I was asked this question again, and this time it prompted me to write an answer to everyone who has ever wondered why I made the decision I made.

First – I was a young writer when Just Juliet was born. I had practice, but the majority of it was amateur. Outside of a few college classes, I had no real idea what I was doing. What I knew was that I had a story in my head and I wanted to put it on paper. I wasn’t prepared for the idea of writing anything above a PG rating. I’d never even thought of trying.

Second – the idea that Juliet and Lena would have a sexual relationship never personally occurred to me. A lot of people will remark that they’re ‘teenagers girls who are attracted to each other of course they’d be banging’ as if teenage females have absolutely no control over themselves whatsoever and must jump the first attractive person they see. But that wasn’t a thought that ever crossed my mind.

I could possibly blame my own highschool experience on this outlook. I am from a very small town, and my graduating class had a grand total of 17 people in it. Out of my entire class I’d say at most 4 of them had had sexual relations before graduation, but can only confirm 1 because he had a baby to prove it xD Regardless, no one really talked about it. We were kids. Young and awkward and acne covered. There were boyfriends and heavy make-out sessions and ‘so, he touched my boob’, but that was about it.

Third – There is a certain comfort level that you must have when writing smut and I simply didn’t back then. In case it’s slipped anyone’s attention, the words in Just Juliet come straight from my own mind. I know a lot about sex, any kind of sex, I find it interesting and fascinating and I collect so many facts that married people will come to me and ask me about things. But the thing is that I view sex as this scientific, factual thing. To take this knowledge that I have, pour it into two 17yr old characters, and then compose it in a way that is either heartwarming and emotional or hot and steamy is just not … simple. Especially when you feel like said characters don’t have that kind of range.

Which brings me to my last few points.

Fourth – Anyone who has been with Just Juliet from the very beginning remembers it’s Wattpad days and remembers that there was a fade-to-black heavily implied sexual scene. I didn’t write this because I wanted to, but because I felt pressured by my readers. Everyone was asking for it, and I spent many nights messaging readers I had become close to and calling my sister and crying. I was stressed because I didn’t want to write smut, but I felt like I owed it to everyone to do so. Thus, I compromised. And of course, people still weren’t happy, so it was all for not.

Fifth – I wrote Just Juliet for closeted teens, for anyone struggling with coming out and wanting a book a little more cheerful to turn to for help down that path. It wasn’t meant for girls that were already there and ready to jump their girlfriends, it was meant for the girls still sneaking looks from the shadows. I could check my demographics on Wattpad and see who was reading, and my largest age range was 12-15. Why was I trying to please the handful of older readers when the younger ones were my audience? Who writes smut for 12yr olds with a clear conscious? No one good. (or ya know, other 12yr olds.)

Sixth – The characters. Juliet wasn’t a virgin when she met Lena, but Lena was. Not only that, but she’d never dated another girl before, nor had she ever been in love. The girls had a year together, but if you take out the summer that they spent ‘broken up’ and the months before they were dating, it was maybe half that, which isn’t really a lot of time.

I feel like the reason people get upset with me for my decision to not include smut or sex or implications in the published version of the book is because women deserve the right to be sexual beings. And they do. But with this specific book where is the line between that being the point I was trying to make, and it becoming ‘girls can’t really be queer unless they’ve had sex with another girl.’?

 

So why then is there sex in Loving Lakyn? I have points for this too, so settle in.

First – I started just Juliet in 2014, I started Loving Lakyn in 2016. It’s just two years, but it’s two years of being a published, professional author, and growing within my writing. By the time LL came along, I felt like I was ready to try my hand at writing smut. And I had a lot of help with this. Have you guys noticed the acknowledgement? I didn’t throw all that down by myself.

Second – Despite the main character’s ages, LL isn’t a typical YA book, the darkness of the material described warranted it a higher rating, which meant that I could include sex scenes without alienating a huge chunk of my readership.

Third – I knew from the get go that Lakyn and Scott’s relationship was sexual. Neither of them were virgins when they met, and neither of them expected anything romantic either. They very much had a friends-with-benefits start and that had always been a thing.

Fourth – No one is questioning their sexuality. Closeted as he was, Scott was very sure he was gay, and Lakyn was out. There’s no confusing feelings about what they want. And it’s a bit sexist, a bit stereotyped, but also biologically proven that males are more sex driven then females. I also feel it’s noteworthy to mention too that Scott and Lakyn aren’t always having sex in the most healthy of ways, and that their relationship has always been very different from Lena and Juliet’s.

 

 

TLDR; There’s no sex in Just Juliet because Lena was a questioning teenage virgin who wasn’t ready and her girlfriend respected that, while there was sex in Loving Lakyn because Scott and Lakyn are ho’s and very gay for each other.

Just Juliet and Race

I’ve thought about making this post for awhile now. I’ve thought about how I would word it, what I would say, where the line between ‘making excuses’ and ‘explaining myself’ was. At the end of the day I’m not sure there’s a way to write this without making someone, somewhere, unhappy. But. I felt like this was important enough it at least needed to be brought up.

Just Juliet doesn’t get low star reviews a lot, and that’s not meant to sound like I’m bragging, but meant to say that when it does, I pay attention to them. I want to know what someone didn’t like enough to vocalize their distaste. I want to know what I can do to fix it in later stories.

A few I don’t have control over – my writing style, the way I plot, some mistakes the editors made. A lot are from people who obviously don’t come from a generation that use insults as terms of endearment. Some are from homo/biphobes. Whatever. Can’t win them all.

But, mostly, when something negative is brought up, it’s in terms of race. Namely, how I write about it.

Here’s a little about me: I was born and raised in the South, in a white family, my Grandparents went to segregated schools, there were three African American kids in my own school – two were mixed and one raised by white parents. We had a few families from Mexico, but otherwise, my home town was predominantly, strongly – white.

It’s something I’ve been trying to pay attention to since college. To notice how the world treats other races, to check my white privilege, to do better. Slowly but surely, I am trying.

Here’s a little backstory on Just Juliet, and why race is handled the way it is:

When it was written and originally put up on Wattpad, Lacey was the only POC. And after it was finished, with 2.5k readers, only a handful finished the book knowing Lacey was black. Rereading it, it crushed me that I had somehow managed to whitewash my book so badly..

So while in the editing process, I tried to fix it. I tried to pull on things that would make Lacey’s race more noticeable, and decided to change some of the other background characters races too. Kiki, Georgia’s boyfriend Chris, Matt. (Actually, no one complains about Matt, but that makes me wonder if it’s because no one remembers he’s hispanic?)

Did the main cast stay white? Yes. I thought about making Lena biracial for a little while, but in the end I decided I didn’t have enough of a grasp on what it means to be biracial to write her that way. It wasn’t my story to tell. Lakyn, Juliet, and Scott fell under the same rules, because I could write stories from all their POVs eventually. 

This review, specifically, calls out the mistake I still made:

I almost put the book down five pages in because of how casually racist the descriptions of the supporting characters were. Like, wow, your token asian has very conservative parents and loves math?? you have a character who has a ”beautiful multiracial baby”, and the dad’s out of the picture?but it’s totally cool, because your bland white girl MC has a best friend who’s black and *~coincidentally~* combative and promiscuous?”

Maybe I’m going to regret speaking my thoughts from here on but *deep breath* I didn’t realize I was stereotyping. (I take full responsibility for the line “Lacey went so white she could almost pass for caucasian” because yeah, that’s gross, but I was trying to find any and every way that I could point out she wasn’t, that it just…slipped in. Someone should honestly take that out. Publishing team – if you’re reading, do us a solid?)

So what have I learned? That I should try to do better. I shouldn’t have walked into a book throwing races around with a limited time frame and even more limited research.

So this is me acknowledging that I fucked up.

And I will do my best to not do it again.

Okay that’s all I had to say.

Best,

Char

Just Juliet: Where Are The Happy Gays?

LIKE & SHARE TO SPREAD THE WORD <3

Come Out. Be Loved. Be HAPPY. 🌈Encourage your friends to be brave. 💛💚💙💜This video was inspired by the book Just Juliet in which Lena discovers her sexuality and with the support of her friends and family she finds happiness as her true self. Check it out here: http://amzn.to/2o9i23S

Gepostet von Inkitt am Donnerstag, 13. April 2017

Just Juliet Book Club Questions

+ How do you think you would react if you were in Lena’s shoes when she first met Scott and his boyfriend?

+ Do you agree or disagree with Mr. James’ decision to let Lena spend the night with Juliet? What would you handle differently?

+ What are your views on the fact that Mr. James lets Scott stay with Lakyn? Do these views change from the beginning of the book to the end?

+ Have you ever felt the way Lena does about Juliet for someone?

+ Do you think the teenagers accurately represent kids of their same age in this time?

+ How do you think the parents’ reaction to their children being gay affected their relationship? How do you think Lakyn’s parents’ rejection affected his personality, or Scott’s parents’ refusal affected his?

+ If you’re LGBT+, have you ever had a friend react to your coming out the way Lacey did? How did you feel about it?

+ Are you the Token Heterosexual to anyone? How did you react to someone coming out to you? Would you do it differently now?

+ Have you ever had a nightmare like the one Lena has about her grandfather in chapter ten?

+ Have you ever had a secret like Lena’s? Was it hard to tell people about?

+ How would you react if you child came out as LGBT? What if you happened to just find out, like Scott’s parents did?

+ Do you understand Kiki’s reaction to the news? Do you agree with Lena’s decision to continue their friendship, despite their differences?

+ Do you agree with Juliet and Lena’s decision to break up? Or do you think they should have figured something else out?

+ Do you think things would have been different if Juliet had told Lena she was leaving?

+ What is the significance of the title?

+ Do you feel the themes of the book were adequately explored?

+ What scene meant the most to you? Why?

+ What surprised you most about the book?

+ Were there any particularly quotes that stood out to you? Why?

+ If you could smack any of the characters upside the head, who would it be? Why?

+ Were there moments when you disagreed with the choices the characters made? What would you have done instead?

+ Did you like the ending? If not where do you think it should have ended / what would you do differently?

+ How have the characters changed by the end of the story?

+ How have you changed by the end of the story?

+ What did you learn or take away from the book?

+ What do you think will happen next to the main characters?

On Lacey Parker


Character’s Full Name: Lacey Anne Parker

Name Origin: Lacey was named just because her mother wanted a particularly feminine name for their daughter, and figured the best way to do that would be to name her after lace. It was a theme in her baby book, and for a few years after that. Her middle name comes from Saint Anne, the mother of Mary and grandmother of Jesus.

Nicknames: Lace; on occasion. Various curse words; by Lena

Birth Date: August 8th

Religion: Lacey was raised mostly Baptist, although her mother was a Catholic convert. While her parents are very committed in church activities, and Lacey herself is still very religious, the strict rules do not keep her from living her life how she feels fit. Her choices and her path are between her and God, and of no one elses concern.

Physicality: Lacey picked up most of her physical traits from her mother, although there are times she greatly resembles her father. She has thick dark hair which she generally works on to keep straight, and dark skin. Being a cheerleader gives her an athletic but slim build (Lena also notes she has a nice ass), and she dresses rather fashionably.  Height: 5’9″ | Weight: 132lbs | Shirt Size: S/M | Bra Size: 37B | Pants Size: 3 | Shoe Size: 8.5

Sexuality: Heterosexual. This is something Lacey has never had to consider, even after Lena came out. She’s never felt any kind of attraction to the same sex. It’s safe to assume, out of curiosity, that she might experiment in her college years, but all it would do is serve as a reminder that she is, in fact, strictly-dickly

Scars, Piercings & Tattoos: Lacey has a couple of scars from cheerleading accidents (rather on the field or in her front yard), a notable few which are on her knees, and one on her palm from a particularly stubborn rock that got stuck there once. Like most girls, both of Lacey’s ears are pierced. She also gets her navel pierced, and the forward helix of her ear done (where she wears three diamonds). I’m not sure if she ever gets tattoos, although for some reason I have a feeling she’d only ever get one. If she did, it’d likely be some kind of geometric shape, done on her hip.

Personality Facts: Assertive, loyal, brutally honest, can be bitchy, loving, a bit of a tease, self assured.

Quirks: Nicer than she likes to let on, incredibly organized and well structured, extremely confident, whiny when things don’t go her way. Likes to party but also likes to study.

Skills/Talents: Highly intelligent, skilled in gymnastics, very good at debate.

Phobias/Fears: Heights, mostly.

Favorite-

  • +Food: Salads – she honestly loves them, the more creative the better
  • +Drink: Lime Water
  • +Alcoholic Drink: Mimosas
  • +Color: Gold
  • +Film: Legally Blonde
  • +Music: Most forms of pop
  • +Motto: “Wake up. Kick ass. Repeat.”

So, if you could pick someone to represent Lacey, who would it be? 
Image result for amber stevens gifImage result for amber stevens gif

I saw Amber Stevens on some tv show that I don’t even watch one day and was like ‘her. I like her’. I don’t think there’s been anyone else I’ve ever quite liked as much. I did look for a long time, because Amber is actually half white, but in the end the only people I liked more than her were nameless tumblr beauties. *shrugs*


Have you ever wanted to know something about Lacey? Ask in the comments!