Monday, May 16, 2011

Author Interview: Jo Ramsey

Happy Monday my lovely readers! Can you remember the last Monday Interview? Yeah, me neither. lol Today we have the fabulous Jo Ramsey visiting and we are so happy to have her. 

1. Tell us a little about yourself.
I started telling stories when I was two or three, and started writing them down when I was five. I was bullied throughout school, so writing became my way to escape that. I have a drawer full of spiral notebooks containing stories I’ve written, most of which will never see the light of day. My first YA publication didn’t happen until I was 39; that was Connection, the first book in my Reality Shift series, which came out in January 2010. Since then, two more books in Reality Shift have been published, and my new series The Dark Lines launches in May.
I used to teach special education, and have taught at all grades from kindergarten right up through high school. I live in Massachusetts with my two daughters, my husband, and two cats, one of which likes to try to get me to play fetch with her when I’m supposed to be writing.

2. What got you started writing? What brought you to YA?
Like I said, I used to make up stories before I even learned to write. I had a lot of ideas bouncing around my imagination, and I had to get them out somehow! I started writing stories that I would consider YA when I was a young adult myself; well, actually, when I was about 13. That’s kind of where I got stuck.
3. Tell us about your most recent/upcoming release.
My upcoming release, The Black Bridge, is the first book in my urban fantasy series The Dark Lines, about a group of teenagers with psychic abilities who unintentionally become involved in the universal war between the forces of light and the forces of darkness. In The Black Bridge, we meet Topher James, who starts fighting the forces of darkness after one takes his best friend from him.

4. Do you plot out in advance, or just start writing and see where things go from there?
For my series books, I have to do some plotting in advance or I run the risk of breaking continuity. I have to make sure I don’t contradict anything I’ve written previously, and that I remember important details. But once I take care of that and maybe make a few notes about what I think is going to happen in the story, I just start writing and see where the characters take me.

5. Many authors have told me that their characters talk to them, or sometimes even have different ideas of where the story should go than the author. Do you hear your characters?
Oh, good grief, they never shut up! LOL. Honestly, in writing The Dark Lines (I’ve written the first drafts of all the books in the series), there were times I felt like the narrators were writing the stories and I was just the one with my fingers on the keyboard. When I write, my characters often take over the story and steer it in the direction they want it to go, and if I write something they don’t agree with, they tell me.
I think writing is the only career in which you can say you hear voices and not be thought crazy.

6. Who is your favorite character (of your own)?
Hands down, Blake Walker, who readers will meet in book 2 of The Dark Lines. He’s an adopted former foster child whose mother physically abused him because of his psychic abilities, but he has a good heart and strong loyalty to his friends and his adoptive mother. And he’s something very special, but I can’t tell you what because that would be a spoiler.

7. What hobbies do you have when you’re not writing?
I don’t have any hobbies…unless you count learning Japanese, which I’m doing because my husband learned the language so he could watch anime, and sometimes he throws in Japanese words and phrases to confuse me, so I want to learn what he’s saying.

8. If you had not become a writer, what would you have done instead?
I never had plans to be anything other than a writer, and a teacher, but I don’t teach anymore.

9. Where can readers find you online?
My website is I’m on Twitter as @JoRamseyYA, and I have a Facebook profile as well.
My two urban fantasy series Reality Shift and The Dark Lines can be found at Jupiter Gardens Press, as well as on Amazon, Barnes &Noble, and probably other third party sites.
I’m working on a website for The Dark Lines and one for Reality Shift, so stay tuned for those!

10. Your turn. What question do you have for readers of Want My YA?
What do you look for in the characters you read about? What makes a character someone you would want to get to know better?

Thanks so much for visiting Want My YA today, Jo. :) It was great having you here. Readers be sure to post your answer to her question in the comments. It's great to hear from you.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


With the help of I have selected the winners for copies of Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys. And the winners are.....

Ted S. and Beth S. 

Please contact me at wantmyya at gmail dot com with your mailing info. If I don't hear from you by Saturday I'll have to choose new winners. (you don't want me to do that do you? lol)

Thank you again to everyone who entered. I hope you'll keep checking back for more reviews, interviews, features, and hopefully more giveaways as well. 

Eyecatcher: Wake Unto Me by Lisa Cach

Wake Unto Me
by Lisa Cach

ISBN: 9780142414361
Release Date: March 31, 2011

from the author's site:

Caitlyn Monahan knows she belongs somewhere else. It’s what her dead mother’s note suggested, and it’s what her recurring nightmares allude to. Desperate to flee these terrifying dreams—and her small town—she accepts a spot at a boarding school in France. Only, when she arrives, her nightmares get worse.

But then there are her amazing dreams, so vivid and so real, with visits from an alluring, mysterious, and gorgeous Italian boy from the 1500s. Caitlyn knows they are soul mates, but how can she be in love with someone who exists only in her dreams?

Then, as her reality and dream world collide, Caitlyn searches for the real reason why she was brought to this school. And what she discovers will change her life forever.

why it caught my eye: 

This was another title that popped up as an Amazon Recommend. I like the dream angle. I'm already wondering what all of the connections are. :) This one is definitely on my never-ending wishlist. Anyone out there read it yet? What did you think?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Review: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Between Shades of Gray
by Ruta Sepetys
Philomel (Penguin)
ISBN: 9780399254123
Release Date: March 22, 2011

from the official book site: 

In 1941, fifteen-year-old Lina is preparing for art school, first dates, and all that summer has to offer. But one night, the Soviet secret police barge violently into her home, deporting her along with her mother and younger brother. They are being sent to Siberia. Lina's father has been separated from the family and sentenced to death in a prison camp. All is lost. 

Lina fights for her life, fearless, vowing that if she survives she will honor her family, and the thousands like hers, by documenting their experience in her art and writing. She risks everything to use her art as messages, hoping they will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive. 

It is a long and harrowing journey, and it is only their incredible strength, love, and hope that pull Lina and her family through each day. But will love be enough to keep them alive? 

my thoughts: 
I'm not sure I can properly put everything Between Shades of Gray made me feel into words. The emotions of Lina and her family were so palpable that I sometimes had trouble separating myself from the story. Reading the story of Lina and her family I felt their fear, anger, and confusion. Even writing about it now, it's all coming back. 
Lina is a fabulously strong character. Despite everything she and her family endure, she holds onto herself and her hope and finding her father again. Strong as Lina is though, it is her mother's strength that astounds me. Through it all, Mrs. Vilkas is a pillar of strength for all of the deportees. She holds everyone together when they are ready to fall apart.  

I don't think there is a single character in Between Shades of Gray that I didn't find myself caring about in some way. Everyone's fate mattered to me; they felt that real.
This is a story that needs to be read. This is a history that needs to be told. Lina and her family may be fictional, but these things did happen, and we should honor the memory of those who suffered and died by sharing their story. I'm so glad that Ruta Sepetys sat down to write Between Shades of Gray and share these events with the world. I admit being of Lithuanian ancestry makes me even more emotional about this story; it felt very personal, even knowing that my family came to America prior to Stalin and his atrocities.

And now for the fun part: 
Because I believe so strongly that this story needs to be read. I'm giving away not one, but two copies. To enter to win just leave a comment on this post. You can talk about this book, you can talk about another book that really touched you, just say something. I'll announce the winners sometime Tuesday May 10 (specific time will depend on when I get up). If you're like me and you think you'll forget to check back please leave your email in your comment so I can contact you.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Eyecatcher: Die for Me by Amy Plum

Die for Me
by Amy Plum
ISBN: 9780062004017
Release Date: May 10, 2011
from the author's site: 

In the City of Lights, two star-crossed lovers battle a fate that is destined to tear them apart again and again for eternity.

When Kate Mercier’s parents die in a tragic car accident, she leaves her life—and memories—behind to live with her grandparents in Paris. For Kate, the only way to survive her pain is escaping into the world of books and Parisian art. Until she meets Vincent.

Mysterious, charming, and devastatingly handsome, Vincent threatens to melt the ice around Kate’s guarded heart with just his smile. As she begins to fall in love with Vincent, Kate discovers that he’s a revenant—an undead being whose fate forces him to sacrifice himself over and over again to save the lives of others. Vincent and those like him are bound in a centuries-old war against a group of evil revenants who exist only to murder and betray. Kate soon realizes that if she follows her heart, she may never be safe again.

why it caught my eye: 

Die for Me popped up as a recommend on Amazon. I love the catchy title and gorgeous cover. I'm intrigued by the plot. I love paranormal stories and this one sounds different from the typical. I can't wait for Die for Me's release so I can check it out further.