Three Times a Charm is a weekly feature that spotlights authors, illustrators, bloggers, agents, editors or promoters from the publishing industry.
This week we are joined by author Jo Ramsey. Jo, tell us about yourself.
When I was two and a half, I learned to read. That’s where this whole thing started. I began to make up stories, and I knew I wanted to see my stories in books like the ones I was reading. The problem was, no one would teach me how to make letters.
In kindergarten, that problem was resolved, and I started writing down my stories. The first story I ever wrote, when I was five, was about a girl named Maria who went to live with her uncle. After that, I barely stopped writing. I wrote my first YA-novel-length manuscript when I was twelve, and I have a filing drawer full of spiral notebooks that contain all the stories I wrote through middle school, high school, and college.
When I was in my late 30’s, I finally was published. My first YA novel, Connection, was released in January 2010, and since then seven others have been released.
I live in Massachusetts with my two daughters, my husband, and two cats.
Reading at 2 and writing at 5. That’s amazing. What a story of persistence and passion, Jo! Tell us about your latest pojects.
The fifth book in my young adult urban fantasy series Reality Shift was released November 17. Reality Shift is about two teenagers, Jonah Leighton and Shanna Bailey, who use skills such as energy healing and channeling to fight demons, send malevolent dead spirits to the other side, and prevent the universe from being vaporized. In book five, From the Ashes, Shanna is adjusting to life in her foster home, and is thankful she has Jonah and her foster brother, Mark James, to help her cope with the changes in her life. When a substitute teacher slaps a student in Shanna’s gym class, and then turns up working as a psychic reader at a New Age store in their town, Shanna and Jonah realize that the universe is again at risk and have to persuade the reader to let them help her—after they persuade her to tell the truth about herself. From the Ashes, as well as books one through four in the series, are available from Jupiter Gardens Press, http://www.jupitergardens.com.
Also in November, my first young adult contemporary novel, Cluing In, was released. Jamey Mandel is the one his friends go to for help and advice, so it shouldn’t surprise him when his ex-girlfriend Tina Kane asks him for help. The problem is, he broke up with Tina because she was pressuring him for sex, and now she’s pregnant by her new boyfriend. Jamey doesn’t want to get involved. However, when he learns that Tina has taken her own life, he wishes he had supported her, or at least had told someone she needed help. Cluing In is available from Featherweight Press, http://www.featherweightpublishing.com.
Hooray for featherweight! I was so excited to see that we are both birds of a feather. (Corny, sorry.)
Now, for the Threes. Share with us your top 3’s to help us know you a little better.
- Top 3 skills to hone for people just starting in your business.
1. Proofreading. You have to be able to read your own manuscript and make corrections, whether or not anyone else sees it before you submit.
2. Accepting criticism. It isn’t personal, it’s about your writing, and if you listen and take suggestions it will only improve your craft.
3. Writing. Having ideas is easy; putting them on the page, in a way that makes sense to your reader and holds their attention, is harder. It takes time, it takes work, but it’s worth it when you’re finally able to hold your book in your hands.
- Top 3 pieces of advice for kids these days.
1. Don’t grow up too fast. You’re a kid; be one. Take time to learn about life and about the opportunities that exist for you before you have to be responsible. Take time to have fun and be playful; you won’t always be a kid, and believe me, if you don’t let yourself be one now you might regret it when you’re old like me.
2. Be kind to each other. Why do you have to rag on the girl next to you about her clothes, or snipe at the guy in your gym class because he isn’t “macho” enough? It doesn’t hurt you to be nice to them, or at least ignore them if you can’t be nice.
3. Be kind to yourself. You are important. You are special, and you’re beautiful (yeah, even if you’re a guy). When you start to feel bad about yourself, take a few minutes to write down some of the awesome things about you.
- Top 3 professions you wanted to be when you grew up.
1. An author. That seems to have worked out pretty well, even though it took me a long time to get here.
2. A teacher, preferably a special education teacher. I was one for several years; I have a degree in special education, and was one class away from a double major in elementary education. I stopped teaching full-time and switched to either working as a teacher’s aide or a substitute when my kids were younger because they were both struggling and needed me more than the schools did, and since I moved to Massachusetts I’ve developed health problems that keep me from being able to stand up for long stretches of time; I can’t teach without being on my feet. It’s physically impossible for me. So I gave up working in schools, except for occasional school visits.
3. A singer. I wrote songs in high school, and some of them were pretty good. I could even sing on key most of the time. But I didn’t have the confidence to pursue this dream, so it never happened. Occasionally my song lyrics show up in my stories, though.
Jo, where can our readers learn more about you and stay informed of new releases?
Website: http://www.joramsey.com (my blog is part of the site)
It has been great visiting with you, Jo! Thanks for stopping in and sharing your books and advice with us. Best of luck with your new releases.