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Winners of The Realm of The Lost

The 2 winners of the ecopies of The Realm of the Lost by Emma Eden Ramos are:

Anna of Diary of an Eccentric

and

Julie of Booking Mama

Congrats to you both!  I hope you enjoy meeting Mikey and all the rest.

Giveaway: The Realm of the Lost by Emma Eden Ramos

The Realm of the Lost by Emma Eden Ramos, a middle-grade fantasy novella about a 13-year-old girl, opens up a new world to readers, but also gives them pause about how they act and react in their own real lives, especially when angry or disappointed.  Ramos has an uncanny talent for creating a feisty young woman who is growing up and finding it hard to balance the changes that happen in her family life.

I reviewed Ramos’ novella in October 2012, and really enjoyed it, hoping the author would write more about these realms and the people Kat meets.  You can check out my review.

Today, I’ve got a treat for you, dear readers, a character interview and excerpt from Ramos’ novella, plus a giveaway of 2 e-copies; without further ado, please check out the interview and excerpt and enter the giveaway:

The Interview:

Today I am joined by The Realm of the Lost’s eight-year-old Mikey. Hey, Mikey, How’ve you been?

Pretty swell, I think.

You think?

Well, you know. I just…I still get into trouble sometimes.

Still? I know that was a big issue for you in the past.

Yea, I know. I guess I talk too much.

Let’s say you sometimes speak out of turn. Have you been in any trouble lately?

No, but I will be.

Really?

I shouldn’t even be talking to you. You know that!

Okay. We’ll make this quick then. I’m just checking in.

Alright. I just hope no one around here finds out.

In The Realm of the Lost, you are one of Kat’s guides, her realm brother. What was that like? A lot of responsibility, I bet.

Oh, yea! Realm brothers and sisters are very important. And I’m an old-timer, you know. Sure, I’m only eight, but I’ve been here a long time! I know this place better than anyone.

I don’t know if I’d go that far.

I would. I know this realm better than you do!

Mikey!

Sorry.

Can you briefly explain what a realm brother is?

Sure. Realm brothers and sisters are like regular brothers and sisters, only they’re not related to you. They were never part of your family on earth. In fact, you probably didn’t even know them when you were alive!

So when Kat came to The Realm of the Lost, did you immediately like having her as your realm sister?

No. Well, I did until she got bossy. Then I didn’t like her for a short time. But I got used to her.

When people read Kat’s story, they may have some questions about your past.

Why?

Because it’s interesting! You’re interesting. Still, The Realm of the Lost is mainly Kat’s story.

Does that mean she’ll get all the attention?

Well, yea. As I said, it’s her story. She tells the story.

Can I tell a story, too?

Maybe, if you want to. It’s a lot of work to tell a whole story.

I don’t think it’s that hard at all. I tell lots of stories.

Okay. We’ll have to talk about that a little later. Before I let you go, is there anything you’d like to tell those who will be reading The Ream of the Lost?

Yes. Tell them that I tell stories too! But not now. Darkness is on its way. I have to go!

Bye, Mikey. And thanks for chatting.

Goodbye. Don’t forget to tell them. I’ll see you all soon.

Yes, you sure will.

Emma Eden Ramos

Excerpt:

It was warm when I came to, and I felt no pain. Standing with ease, I bent over and inspected my pant-legs, searching for some remnant of dirt or ice. Nothing. Could this be a dream?

Then I noticed a bright orange ray reflecting off my necklace. The glare almost blinded me. I surveyed my surroundings.

Positioned atop solid dirt ground, I gasped in awe. Pine trees stood skyscraper high, haloed by dusty golden light. The sound of chirping birds echoed all around, and I spotted, to my left, what looked like a duck, but with a sharper and more pronounced beak. Bending down to inspect the creature as it waddled past, I heard a small voice from behind me.

“If you’re a poacher, you belong in the under realm.”

“What?” I asked, turning to face a boy who couldn’t be more than eight. He wore navy blue shorts that folded at the tips of his scrawny knees. His white-collared shirt, grey vest and checkered cap reminded me of something out of an old movie. I couldn’t help smiling as he stood, arms crossed, with an air of authority.

“If you’re a poacher, you are in the wrong realm,” the boy said.

“I’m not a poacher. I’ve been in an accident and–wrong realm?”

The boy sighed, twiddling his thumbs in a way that made me think of my brother.

“Okay,” he continued, after an awkward pause. “Well, first, do you know where you are?”

“Like I said, I was in an accident. I guess I passed out. I don’t–I’m not sure if my mother knows–”

“Oh. No. She wouldn’t know a thing like this.”

“A thing like what?” I demanded, stomping my foot.

“That you’ve come to the Realm of the Lost.”

Chapter two: First Journey

I opened my mouth to respond, to tell the odd boy I wasn’t in the mood for fantasy and games but I was cut off by a more grown-up sounding female voice. “Mikey! Mikey, how many times has Miss A told you? You’re not to explain anything to the newcomers!”

“She asked,” Mikey protested, fidgeting with his hands. “I can’t help if people ask me. And you can’t blame me this time because I was the first one here.”

“Shush!” the voice snapped, its owner walking out from behind one of the tall trees. She was in her mid-teens and had beautiful olive skin. Her thick black hair fell past her waist, and I immediately felt captivated by her deep-set brown eyes. “You can be such a pest.” She glared at Mikey. “And she didn’t ask. I know that be–”

“Excuse me,” I interrupted. “My mother is home with my brother. I should be with my sister Ellie. We were supposed to walk to school together, but we had a fight and Ellie–“

I have 2 e-copies of the novella up for grabs. For those interested, leave a comment here asking Mikey a question. Deadline to enter is Feb. 10, 2013, at 12 PM EST.

Interview with Emma Eden Ramos

Emma Eden Ramos is a relatively new-to-me voice in poetry and short fiction, but she’s got such a unique perspective on her stories that make it fresh and memorable.  Her poetry, particularly in Three Women that I reviewed last year, offers well drawn voices and perspectives, and her poems are memorable in the images that they create.  It is no wonder that she brings these same talents to her fiction, including the recently published The Realm of the Lost, which I reviewed earlier this week.

Today, she’s agreed to answer a few questions about her middle-grade fantasy novella, The Realm of the Lost.

1.  The Realm of the Lost is a novella for middle grade readers, and you’ve published poetry in a collection, Three Women.  How was the writing process different for these two genres?  Did one take longer than the other? Was there more editing involved with the novella versus the poetry collection, etc.?

Because Three Women: A Poetic Triptych is prose-like and tells a story, I approached it and The Realm of the Lost in much the same way. When I began writing Three Woman, however, I gave myself permission to be reckless and experimental. While the idea for The Realm of the Lost cycled through my head for about a year before I was able to go anywhere with it, Three Women took two months from start to finish.

Initially, with Three Women, I found myself saying, “This could be a giant failure, but so what? Why not try it out? Be messy!” That frame of mind turned out to be crucial because, while it shifted once I got deep into the writing, it gave me the starting point I needed. I consider myself more prose-writer than poet, so I was reserved about letting go and playing with The Realm of the Lost. Once I allowed myself room to be adventurous (and perhaps even silly at times), The Realm of the Lost began to take shape.

The Realm of the Lost certainly required more editing than Three Women. Whether that has more to do with genre or length (The Realm of the Lost being four times as long as Three Women), I don’t know. I do know that, in both cases, giving myself ample space to experiment helped the story morph into something tangible and, hopefully, soulful.

2.  Mikey, the eight-year-old boy in Realm of the Lost, is exuberant and often acts without thinking, like most little brothers.  Do you have any siblings?  If not, where did the inspiration for Mikey come from? And are their plans to write his own story?

While I do have a younger sibling (a sister), she wasn’t the inspiration for Mikey. Let’s just say that she isn’t the one known for being “overly exuberant” and acting thoughtlessly.

When I first met Mikey, I thought of him as a cross between Dickey from Dickens’ Oliver Twist and the little brother from the 1944 film National Velvet, whose signature line, “I was sick all night!” seemed to fit in with Mikey’s usual impishness.

There will be another Realm story. I can’t say for sure if it will center around Mikey. He is, nevertheless, bound to make an appearance.

3.  Rosario is a mysterious character, but she sort of takes on a big sisterly role with Kat, which is a bit of a role reversal for the protagonist.  Was this intentional and what do you think this relationship teaches Kat about her own life?

While Kat sees herself as “the patient one, the one who takes care of everyone,” she has a tendency to be quick-tempered and judgmental. As is true of many first children, Kat views her younger siblings–her sister Ellie in particular–as a burden. She is too preoccupied with being the bossy grown-up to give herself space to be a kid. When Rosario steps in and not only chastises Kat for being unkind to Mikey but takes on the role of Big Sister, Kat begins to have experiences that allow her to identify with the people she has been so quick to snub.

4.  Tell us a little bit about your process in finding a publisher for your poetry and short stories.  Do you have an organized method? How do you find the right publishers or do you have a network of writers that offer their advice?

Finding the right publisher for one’s work can be a bit like finding the right college. There is an enormous amount of research involved. With Three Women, I was asked by the editor to write a poetry chapbook, so I didn’t end up doing the research that is typically required. With The Realm of the Lost, I kept an eye out for different publishers the moment I had the idea. Stories for Children Magazine, a journal for children’s literature that published one of my stories, had a monthly newsletter that included publishing houses accepting middle grade and juvenile fiction. MuseItUp Publishing was on that list.

There are some fantastic resources out there for writers. Many genre-specific journals have a newsletter or an affiliations page on their website. It is always a good idea to search through names and visit different publishing houses’ websites. I have a list on my computer that I revisit regularly.

5.  Will your next project be middle grade readers, poetry, or something else?  Care to share some tidbits or a title to whet readers’ appetites?

My next book will be for middle grade readers. If I had a title, I’d happily share it. That is still in the works. This book, however, will be a full-length novel. I love novellas and read them regularly, and I plan to continue writing them. But yes, a novel is on its way, so please stay tuned.

Thanks, Emma, for sharing your thoughts with us about your novella, your characters, and the writing and publishing process.

About the Author:

Emma Eden Ramos is a writer and student from New York City. Her short stories have appeared in Stories for Children Magazine, The Storyteller Tymes, BlazeVOX Journal, and others. Emma’s 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.

The Realm of the Lost by Emma Eden Ramos

The Realm of the Lost by Emma Eden Ramos is a middle-grade fantasy novel about a 13-year-old girl, named Kat Gallagher, who is feisty and responsible.  She’s got younger siblings, Ellie and Colm, and a home life that is not what it once was, but she takes it on her own shoulders to care for her little brother whose sick a lot of the time.  Her and Ellie, on the other hand, act as sisters should, especially sisters who share a room.  They bicker over space, and one day on the way to school, all of the tension boils over on the streets of New York City.

An accident changes everything for Kat, and she finds herself in a place that is disconcerting to say the least.  Here, she meets Rosario and Mikey, her brother and sister in the realm, and she must contend with Miss A, her realm mother.  Between the Tallyman, the mysterious forests, and the creepy dark mists that come out at night with Apate, Kat must navigate a strange and frightening world.  What makes this world believable is Ramos’ ability to ground her characters in a place and time, despite their strange surroundings.

“Before she died, Grandma Rose gave me a sterling silver necklace bearing the Celtic triskele.  ‘This,’ she explained, pointing to each swirl that extended from the symbol’s triangular middle, ‘will bring you knowledge, power, and, someday, a safe passage.'” (from ebook, location 27)

Grandma Rose is like Kat, a feisty Irish woman who immigrated to the United States, and she is reminiscent of the grandmothers who tell tall tales from the past and generally dote on their grandchildren.  Unfortunately, we don’t see much of this relationship, but a glimpse is enough to get the gist that she’s an important part of Kat’s upbringing.  The relationship between Ellie and Kat is clear, though the relationship with their mother is a little less developed.  However, Ramos offers the right balance of plot and description to see where Kat is and when, allowing the suspense and tension to build to the twist.

The four realms and what they signify are interesting, and could bring additional inspiration for a series of novellas, if Ramos is so inclined — the possibilities are endless.  But what is truly engaging is the parallels between The Realm of the Lost and Kat’s real life, only in the lost realm, Kat is forced to take on the role of younger sibling.  The Realm of the Lost by Emma Eden Ramos is an adventure that teachers Kat that there are more important things than just whether you have your own room.

***I wanted this to be longer!***

About the Author:

Emma Eden Ramos is a writer and student from New York City. Her short stories have appeared in Stories for Children Magazine, The Storyteller Tymes, BlazeVOX Journal, and others. Emma’s 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.  Please visit her Website.

This is my 5th book for the 2012 Ireland Reading Challenge.