Monday 21 April 2014

Still At Your Door by Emma Eden Ramos

Publication date: February 22, 2014
Publisher: Writers AMuse Me
Genre: YA/Contemporary

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YA -- Sabrina "Bri" Gibbons has only a few short minutes to pack her things and help her sisters pack theirs before running with their mother to the bus that will whisk them away from Butler, Pennsylvania, an abusive relationship, and a secret that none of them wish to acknowledge. She was not prepared, though, for her mother to drop them on the streets of New York with the promise that she would be right back. Haunted by the sight of her mother running back to the cab, Bri, with Missy and Grace in tow, settles in with their grandparents. Thoughts of her present and her future collide with memories of her past, her dead father, and her mother’s bizarre episodes. She watches her sisters struggle with school and acceptance, all the while knowing the lack of any sense of security will make it impossible for them to carry on as ‘normal’ children. She finally lets her guard down enough to allow someone else in and sees a faint glimmer that her dreams might be attainable. Disaster strikes again, this time targeting her sister. Is it possible for Bri to find that balance between her dreams and her family’s realities?


Emma Eden Ramos is a writer and student from New York City. Her middle grade novella, The Realm of the Lost, was recently published by MuseItUp Publishing. Her short stories have appeared in Stories for Children Magazine, The Storyteller Tymes, BlazeVOX Journal, and other journals. Ramos’ novelette, Where the Children Play, is included in Resilience: Stories, Poems, Essays, Words for LGBT Teens, edited by Eric Nguyen. Three Women: A Poetic Triptych and Selected Poems (Heavy Hands Ink, 2011), Ramos’ first poetry chapbook, was shortlisted for the 2011 Independent Literary Award in Poetry. Emma studies psychology at Marymount Manhattan College. When she isn’t writing or studying, Emma can usually be found drinking green tea and reading on her kindle.


I hold tight to my memories of the solid years. Each one is a crystal vase filled to the brim with brightly colored petals. Summer, ‘99: Missy is five, I’m six. We’re vacationing at Virginia Beach with Mom and Dad. Mom wears a black one-piece, a white sun hat and no sunscreen. Her lanky, bronzed legs shimmer under the fiery rays, but it’s all well and good. “Gypsy skin,” she explains, lathering up my little sister. “You and I have it.” She winks at me. “Missy here’s more like Daddy.” In front of us, Dad talks to a blonde boy with a surfboard. He turns to us and beckons. I jump to my feet, eager to hit the waves. “Sabrina.” Mom presses her leathery palms against my cheeks. “Bri-bear.” She kisses my nose. “Go on.” I grab Missy’s hand and we scamper toward the giant salt pond, ready for Dad to scoop us up and wade us through.
Another summer, many years later, Missy and I come across what looks like a secret stash of sea glass. We collect the emerald green fragments just as a mother-sized wave unfurls to scoop them back up. The edges have been smoothed over, calmed. I slide my index finger across one side of the largest piece. Missy stands next to me, peering out toward the horizon. I turn to her, the glass held tightly in my fist. Before I can begin, she says, “Water life is easier.”
“Huh?” I stare down at the rushing waves. A thick clump of seaweed tickles my ankle.
Missy seizes a shard from her stash and flings it. The water swallows the glass whole. There’s no resistance on either side. “It wasn’t ready.” She shakes her head.
“What does that mean?” I ask. “How is water life easier?”
“I don’t know. I guess… you go in jagged. You’re jagged when you go in but smooth when you come out.”
Trying to understand, I scrutinize my sister’s profile. I recognize our mother in her pronounced cheekbones, her long black lashes.
“But not us.” Missy speaks to the open water. I just happen to be standing by. “We come in soft, without edges. Those come later.”
“You mean we get jagged with age?”
“Yes.” Missy’s eyes grow big. She cocks her head to one side, then turns to meet my gaze. “That’s what happens to us.”


1.  Tell us a bit about your new book, “Still, At Your Door”.  What influenced you to write it?  I like the blurb that I read on Amazon.
Thank you! I wanted to explore the mother-daughter relationship. I am interested in the bond mothers share with their daughters, but I wanted to write about a scenario in which the roles were reversed. Sabrina must care for her sisters, Missy and Grace, and Sheila, their mother.
2.  I saw another book on your page, “Realm of the Lost”.  What was your influence there?
I wrote The Realm of the Lost after reading Dante in an Italian course. I was intrigued by Dante's nine circles of Hell, and his theories on life after death. I read a few articles on near death experiences, compiled the information, then took it from there.
3.  What else have you written?
I wrote a poetry chapbook titled Three Women: A Poetic Triptych which was shortlisted for the Independent Literary Award. I've also written a number of short stories that have been either published in journals or anthologized.
4.  You had a book launch March 17 at WordUp Books in NYC—how did that go?
My most recent reading was on April 3rd at a store here in NYC called Book Culture. It was wonderful. I was blessed to have Dr. Hilary Hallett, film historian and author, present me.

5.  I could see from your blogsite that you have written in several different genres.  Is YA your favorite?
Definitely! YA is definitely my favorite genre.
6.  Would love to have you post an excerpt from your newest book!
sure! Here is the prologue and first chapter:
7.  How do you like living in NYC?  Have you lived anywhere else?  
I am a New York girl. I lived in Salt Lake City for a year. I don't ever see myself leaving NYC for more than a year at a time, though.
8.  You are taking psychology classes.  Which ones are your favorite?  Besides writing, what type of career do you see yourself doing in a few years?
I was a psychology student (that bio has since been updated) and enjoyed most of the courses I took. My favorite, though, was probably child development. I volunteer at a local bird shelter. I am also in the process of getting certified to work with developmentaly challenged children. I love being around kids.
9.  Anything you want to share about your home life?
I am in the process of getting a bird. If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know!
10.  I know that reading, writing, and studying take up a lot of your time.  Is there anything else you like to spend time doing?
I love bird watching! I could do that for hours on end.

Monday 14 April 2014

Screaming Divas by Suzanne Kamata

Publication date: May 18, 2014
Publisher: Merit Press
Pages: 208
Genre: YA Contemporary
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At sixteen, Trudy Baxter is tired of her debutante mom, her deadbeat dad, and her standing reservation at the juvenile detention center. Changing her name to Trudy Sin, she cranks up her major chops as a singer and starts a band, gathering around other girls ill at ease in their own lives. Cassie Haywood, would-have-been beauty queen, was scarred in an accident in which her alcoholic mom was killed. But she can still sing and play her guitar, even though she seeks way too much relief from the pain in her body and her heart through drugs, and way too much relief from loneliness through casual sex. Still, it's Cassie who hears former child prodigy Harumi Yokoyama playing in a punk band at a party, and enlists her, outraging Harumi's overbearing first-generation Japanese parents. The fourth member is Esther Shealy, who joins as a drummer in order to be close to Cassie--the long-time object of her unrequited love--and Harumi, her estranged childhood friend. Together, they are Screaming Divas, and they're quickly swept up as a local sensation. Then, just as they are about to achieve their rock-girl dreams, a tragedy strikes.


Back in the day, Suzanne Kamata spent a lot of time hanging out in a club in Columbia, South Carolina, much like the one in Screaming Divas. (The beat goes on . . .) She later wrote about musicians for The State newspaper, The Japan Times, and other publications. Now, she mostly writes novels. In her free time, she enjoys searching for the perfect fake fur leopard-print coat and listening to the Japanese all-girl band Chatmonchy. Her YA debut, Gadget Girl: The Art of Being Invisible was named the 2013-2014 APALA YA Honor Book and Grand Prize Winner of the Paris Book Festival. For more info, visit or follow her on Twitter @shikokusue.

Inspiration for writing Screaming Divas

For a long time, I’d wanted to write a novel about an all-girl group. At first, I had the idea of writing a novel about a 1960s Motown group like The Supremes, but I figured that there would be a lot of research involved, and there was a huge likelihood that I would get something wrong.Also, someone had already written the musical “Dreamgirls.”  Then I thought it would be fun to write a book about a band similar to the ones involved in the Riot Grrl movement, which pretty much happened in the Pacific Northwest -- bands like Bikini Kill, Sleater-Kinney, and Babes in Toyland. I set my book in Columbia, South Carolina, where I went to college.

I first started writing the parts about Trudy as a novelization of the life of Courtney Love It started out as kind of writing exercise, something that I was doing just for fun while I tried to figure out how to revise another novel I’d been working on. I changed the names and the setting, of course, and some other details. Eventually, the book took on a life of its own, and Trudy did, as well.

When I’m writing, I tend to throw everything I’m interested in at the moment into the book, so you’ll find references to The Supremes, Sylvia Plath, Edgar Allan Poe, The Gogo’s, the Columbia artist Blue Sky, Joy Division, and the Capitol Cafe, where I used to hang out with my friends after a night of dancing in a club very much like The Cave.


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