|Jo Ramsey, Fabulous Author|
I'm thrilled to welcome Jo Ramsey to the blog today! Jo is a multi-published author whose latest release is the FIFTH book in her Reality Shift series, From the Ashes. Welcome, Jo!
From the Ashes is the fifth book in your series. How do you keep everything fresh so many books into a series? And how do you keep all the mythology and plot threads straight?
Keeping it fresh is the characters' job. LOL. Seriously, I'm very much a "pantster" when it comes to writing, which means that while I do some brainstorming before I write, I mostly just sit down and start writing and see where the story goes. Sometimes it really does feel like the characters are taking over and telling me what to write, and I think that helps keep the stories fresh because sometimes I don't know what's going to happen until I write it. However, with Reality Shift and my other series The Dark Lines, I wrote out a series arc so that I would know what the ultimate outcome would be, and I made sure that there would be new occurrences and plot twists throughout the series.
As for keeping it straight, I have a binder that a friend of mine once nicknamed "The Protocol." It contains all the notes, brainstorms, and research for Reality Shift and The Dark Lines (there's a bit of crossover between the two series, so it was easier to keep everything in one binder). If I forget something, it's fairly easy to look up. Though I do sometimes forget to write things in there; when my publisher sent me the cover art for From the Ashes, I realized that not only had I once again forgotten which of Shanna's arms was broken in book 4, but I'd also forgotten when she gets the cast off...I've made sure that information is in the binder now!
What are your major influences?
For writing, I would say my biggest influence was Susan Cooper's series The Dark Is Rising, which was the series that made me aware I wanted to write fantasy for young adults. (I was 10 at the time...) For plot ideas and that kind of thing, I was influenced by a friend of mine, the one who nicknamed my binder. Some of the things that Jonah does in the Reality Shift series, my friend did, and he was the real-life inspiration for Jonah's character. Things that have happened to me in my life also heavily influence my stories.
Tell us about your journey. How did you become a writer, and what inspired you to write YA specifically?
I've always been a writer. When I was 2 or 3, I started making up stories and telling them to my parents or my stuffed animals, whichever would listen. When I was 5 and finally learned how to write, I started writing my stories down. The first story I ever wrote was about a girl named Maria who went to live with her uncle. I wrote countless stories from age five to my mid-twenties, when marriage and children forced my writing to the back seat for a little while, then I got back into it in my mid-thirties.
As I mentioned above, Susan Cooper's books were a major influence on my decision to write YA. Mainly, though, I started writing YA when I was a teenager myself, and I kind of never moved past that point. It's fun to pretend to be a teenager and give my characters better outcomes than some of the ones I experienced.
What made you decide to go the e-publishing route? What advantages do you see in e-publishing over traditional publishing?
I'm not exclusively e-published. My YA publishers, Jupiter Gardens Press and Featherweight Press, do e-books and print; the e-books are usually released slightly before the print books, but both are available. I chose to go with small presses for a few reasons; with Reality Shift it was because Jupiter Gardens' mission and the sorts of books they had published previously seemed to be a good fit for the topics in my series. I don't know that there are any advantages to e-publishing over print publishing; different types of books reach different readers. Though most of the teens I've spoken to actually prefer print books, so I'm glad that my publishers offer my books in both versions.
What's coming up next for you?
In addition to From the Ashes, which released in e-formats on November 17 (print coming shortly), my YA contemporary novel Cluing In released on November 9 from Featherweight Press. Cluing In is about a boy whose ex-girlfriend commits suicide after some major events in her life; the boy blames himself because she tried to get his help and he kept pushing her away.
Currently under contract, I have book 3 in my series The Dark Lines; Jet Black will be out mid-January 2012. Reality Shift book 6, Strong Spirit, will be out in April 2012. Both of those are from Jupiter Gardens. Also, as a special Christmas gift to my Reality Shift fans, a Reality Shift short story, "The Harvest Dance," about Shanna's first school dance/first real date with her boyfriend, will be released as a free read from Jupiter Gardens in December. I also have another YA contemporary novel, Dolphins in the Mud, under contract with Featherweight Press; that will be out tentatively in spring 2012. And finally, also from Featherweight, Fresh Meat, the first book in my new urban fantasy series Growing Up Shifter, will be released in mid to late 2012.
I'm currently working on an as-yet-untitled novel starring V.J. Josephson, the uncle of Jamey Mandel from Cluing In. (He's Jamey's uncle, but is actually two weeks younger than Jamey...) To keep up to date on my contracted stuff and my works in progress, readers can visit my website at www.joramsey.com. There's a sign-up on the homepage of the site for my newsletter, which will come out once a month and will include contests, free reads/excerpts, and other fun things. I don't ever share email addresses, so if people sign up, their info will be kept confidential.
And most importantly, how can we get our greedy little hands on From the Ashes?
From the Ashes is available in e-format, followed soon by print, from Jupiter Gardens Press. It will also be available on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com, and other third party retailers; my website will have up-to-date buy links as soon as they're available.
Wow! I am truly in awe of Jo's proliferate-ness. I can barely keep one book straight! As a fellow pantster, I'm impressed.
Remember to visit my blog and Jo's on December 4th for the Season of Reading Blog Hop! Thanks for stopping by, Jo!