A Lila Advent Calendar Review: Guess Who’s Coming to Karamu by Cy Blanca


Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Grant Cary, a twenty-eight-year-old grad student, has let his Kwanzaa shopping go to the very last minute. In his rush to get home, he quite literally bumps into Will Sheritan, a fortysomething software developer, in the elevator. But luck favors (or curses) the adventurous, because their elevator shuts down due to a blackout. Grant and Will learn about each other’s pasts and find more than just a casual interest.

Will has never celebrated Kwanzaa, and he’s reluctant to enter into a relationship, but exploring a new tradition—with a new friend—might brighten his lonely holiday. And if Will accepts Grant’s invitation to join his family for the Karamu feast, Grant might get his Imani gift early.

Guess Who’s Coming to Karamu is an interesting story about a holiday I have never heard about before. I’m glad the author took the time to explain it but I would have loved to see the actual celebration scene between the two MCs.

The misunderstandings between Grant and Will were a little too many for my taste but they didn’t last more than a couple of silent minutes. I enjoyed how they explain things to each other and their willingness to learn.

Overall, it’s a nice holiday story with unique characters but an abrupt ending. I wanted a bit more of the start of their relationship

The cover by Brooke Albrecht follows the 2018 Advent Calendar | Warmest Wishes template. The picture within matches Grant.

Sale Link: Amazon | Nook | Dreamspinner

Book Details:
ebook, 25 pages
ISBN: 9781644050491
Published: December 1, 2018, by Dreamspinner Press
Edition Language: English

Cy Blanca on Writing, First Books and the release ‘A Teacher and a Poet (States of Love)’ by Cy Blanca


A Teacher and a Poet (States of Love) by Cy Blanca
reamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht

Available for Purchase at


Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Cy Blanca here today. Welcome, Cy! Please tell us all about yourself and your first story.


Hi there, everybody. My name’s Cy Blanca, and I’m so honored that Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words allowed me to share a little bit of myself with all their wonderful readers. A Teacher and a Poet is my first attempt at getting something published, and as such I’m a complete noob when it comes to this sort of thing. (This is my first blog tour ever for my first ever published story!) So bear with me… and don’t judge too hard!

To make it easy on everybody I decided I’d answer some questions. Left to my own devices I could go on tangents that lead me from my story to facts I’ve learned about South Korea to recipes for different types of bread. But hopefully I answer well enough that you all get to know me at least a little bit. Of course, if you want to know more about me, you can follow my links down the rabbit hole and see where you end up!

So without any more stalling, here we go!

  • How much of yourself goes into a character?

As far as this story, both of the characters are 100 percent me, not gonna lie. Both Curt and Antony represent different aspects of myself, and those aspects are just augmented. There’s no real secret when it comes to how I framed my characters in this story. When writing A Teacher and a Poet, I sort of couldn’t help but put myself in every aspect of it—from the characters to the setting.

  • Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write?  Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?

No matter the genre, I think research is integral to creating a world and characters that people can believe and become invested in. Even worlds that are wholly imagined have some aspect of research in terms of what things are plausible and how the boundaries can be pushed or even broken. Even when we strive for complete originality or an organic creative experience, there’s always a certain amount of control to the chaos. It’s just how the universe works.

I enjoy research to a point—I’ve always been inquisitive, so just finding out new things is always fun for me. Having a frame to work within serves as a launching point, from which a story and its characters and environments can actually come to life. Even within a certain set of parameters, human experiences are always different and always spontaneous.

  • Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

I think no matter how hard we try, the things we grew up with influence everything we do, the things we think and say. It’s unavoidable. Even when you want to go in a totally different direction, you’re relying on what you’ve learned to decide to completely avoid going down an expected path. For A Teacher and a Poet, particularly, aspects of my childhood are all over this story—after all, the setting is my actual primary school. Kinda couldn’t avoid putting the things I’ve read and experienced in the story. Especially when it comes to what I’ve read growing up; narratives, writing styles, characters have all molded my writing. I fell in love with words at a very early age, so different combinations of them, different ways to make words make music…. It’s all a product of what I’ve read and continue to read.

  • Have you ever had to put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it?  You were hurting with the characters or didn’t know how to proceed?

I’ve got like five stories that I’ve had to just put aside. The story I’ve been working on for three years, for instance, was curbed for over six months at one point because I knew the ending before I knew the story leading up to it, and I was really just too afraid to write the ending because of how emotional it was. Honestly… I put it down because of the ending! (Still working on that one, by the way… whoops…!)

  • Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I think in some ways we all like happy endings because no matter how cynical we all are, we all want things to work out. Even if it’s not necessarily “happily ever after,” people like things to be in order at the conclusion of a journey. Even if it’s only happy in the moment—which I tend to favor more because it rings a little truer to me—in that moment the characters have found what they’re looking for. In the end, that’s all we can hope for, isn’t it? To be happy in the here and now? We can plan for happiness in the future, sure. But we don’t live in the future. We’re living in this second, this moment. May as well create some happiness while we’re breathing and being right now, right?

  • Do you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult?

I never read them as a teenager because my idea of the romance genre was the grocery store romances my grandmother used to read. They looked boring to me. Then everything changed when I read Amy Lane’s Sidecar. Two words: Mind. Blasted! I had no earthly idea romances could be written that way, that romances were being written that way! It was an eye-opening experience, one that shaped my reading as an adult.

  • Who do you think is your major influence as a writer?  Now and growing up?

This is a tough one. Stevie Wonder? I think, yes. He’s the major influence for most things in my life. His understanding of the world, his ability to make words fit around each other…. In A Teacher and a Poet it’s obvious, at least to me, how much music plays a role in how I write. I have to be listening to music to be able to do most things. So, yes, Stevie Wonder is probably my biggest influence as a writer… as a creative mind, if I’m being honest.

  • How do you feel about the eBook format and where do you see it going?

I think eBook is definitely here to stay. As much as it pains me to think this, physical books are slowly becoming a relic, a novelty for those who’ve always loved the feel of words in their hands. In terms of my feelings on eBook format, I’m totally all for it. At first, as with most who grew up reading books, I was a little resistant. But why? I think any vehicle that allows you to carry as many books and stories as you possibly can is a good thing. The only limit to the amount of books you can have on your person at one time is how much digital space you have… and considering the size of most eBooks (a standard eBook, between 200-350 pages, on a Kindle won’t take up more than 3-5 MB of space; even less on a generic e-reader), the possibilities are endless!

  • Do you have a favorite among your own stories?  And why?

Well, as this is my first one being published, this one…? HaHa. But honestly, I’ve put so much work and emotion into the one I’ve been writing for the past few years, that one might preemptively be my favorite.

  • What’s next for you as an author?

Hopefully more published things? I’ve got words all over the place, and they’re doing no good just sitting in my head or in Dropbox. I’m never not writing, in one way or another. So hopefully A Teacher and a Poet is the first in several stories I get to share with people.

Thank you again to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words. I’m so stoked that I get to reach out and talk to your readers! (Even more so because y’all were so kind to me and let me turn this in a little late… ::coughcough::)

About A Teacher and a Poet (States of Love)

Shawnee County, Kansas, might not be the most accepting place for a gay couple, but boyfriends Antony James and Curtis Ramírez have made it their home. Both of them work at Pauline Central Primary School, and while Antony is content teaching, Curt would rather pursue his passion: poetry. He plans to resign, but he doesn’t get the chance.

Working together has its risks, and when a student witnesses Antony and Curt sneaking a kiss in the workroom, they’re reprimanded. The school board’s punishment is mild, but some members of the community aren’t willing to let the indiscretion go. That small mistake could cost Antony and Curt their home—or it could remind them that home is in the heart, and as long as they stay strong in their love, they’ll always have a place to belong.