Ultimate YA

Ultimate YA is an organization that promotes young adult literature (YA lit) and reading. We feature one YA lit author per month. Each feature includes a short bio of the author, as well as fun facts and an interview. 

In addition to our features, we post quotes and memes of the week that relate to books, writing, and/or reading. We also post anything else that we find interesting regarding reading and writing.

Are you interested in being a guest blogger? If so email ChinLin at chinlinpan@ultimateya.com.

If you are an author and would like to be featured, send an email to lizmiller@ultimateya.com. If approved, then pay here for the feature.
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May might be coming to a close, but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep in touch with the latest happenings of our May Featured Author!

Contact her via her website here!

Find her on Twitter: @CinthiaKoeksal

And look her up on Facebook here!

Have a fabulous start to summer lovely readers! And we here at Ultimate YA send out a big thank you to Cinthia for being our May FA!

October may be coming to a close, but that doesn’t mean you can’t contact our awesome October FA!

Christine (C.A.) Verstraete’s Contact Information:

Her website is located here.

Email her here.

Her Pintrest is here.

And, of course, read her blog here!

Tweet her here.

Facebook here here.

6.) You made a transition from non-fiction to fiction in your writing. Do you prefer writing one over the other or do you have a love for both?

I love writing fiction, but I can’t stop writing non-fiction. I’d feel like something was missing if I did. It’s nice to get that paycheck, too!

7.) What advice do you have for our young writers?

Keep writing. Read a lot and read in different genres. It doesn’t hurt taking a basic journalism course, either. It helps you write to deadline and gives you discipline, plus you can then write all kinds of things.

8.) What has been the best moment of this novel release so far?

Getting reactions from readers. It’s fun to hear what they think. So far, it’s been good!

9.) Any new releases coming up in the future that you can share with us?

I am working on a short story to tell Becca’s cousin Spence’s story and on a historical horror project. I’ve been toying with ideas for a sequel to GIRL Z, too. I also like to write short and flash fiction, and have some stories coming out in magazines and anthologies. The ideas never end!

1.) Which character in GIRL Z did you enjoy writing the most (and why)?

I really liked writing about Becca. After all it’s not every day you turn part-Z (zombie) so I had to give her some weird quirks, like a “twirly” eye and a Wolfman gait, while keeping her human. But I tried to make it kind of funny, too. Humor being subjective, of course. Yeah, I have a weird sense of humor.

2.) The zombie/paranormal subject has become very popular in fiction these days. What drew you to this topic?

I’ve been a horror junkie—ghosts, creepy monsters, etc—for years. Love going to haunted houses, too. I guess I like getting scared! Zombies have been a recent fascination for me, unless you add in The Mummy and Frankenstein, which could be considered the first “undead.”

3.) What was the process for writing/editing/getting published GIRL Z like?

I probably felt all the emotions you can think of! Publishing can be an exhilarating, aggravating, fearful, joyful and fun process!

4.) When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I think I was destined. My favorite baby picture shows me with a newspaper and pencil behind my ear. And yes, I’m a newspaper reporter, too. :)

5.) Any book recommendations for our avid readers here?

Besides mine? :) I really liked the first Beautiful Creatures novel. I’m also a Jonathan Maberry fan and think his Dead of Night is one of the best novels I’ve read. I also enjoyed his YA zombie series beginning with Rot & Ruin. There are also some amazing indie and small press authors writing great zombie and vampire fiction.

7 Fun Facts about Christine Verstraete!

1. I like to write about zombies and watch zombie movies, but I admit sometimes when I watch a movie or The Walking Dead, I do close my eyes or go “ewwww!”

2. I have a dollhouse in every room of my house (yes, even the bathroom!)

3. I have a saltwater fish tank in my living room with (yes, real) dwarf seahorses.

4. I have jumped at and been stuck to a Velcro wall, and have been this close with privately owned wild wolves.

5. I have visited or met several people that I got to know first as pen pals (before email). My Dutch friend, whom I met first by mail more than 10 years ago, also came here to visit. We still make dollhouse miniatures for each other, and send each other Christmas and birthday packages.

6. I love animals and have raised wild baby bunnies that I released back outside. (Messy!)

7. I have a German Shepherd dog that likes to eat bananas (peeled, of course!).


Of course, As the family “bookworm,” I think my writing desire was a natural progression. I always read and still do, enjoying books by Barbara Taylor Bradford, Elaine Viets, Debbie Macomber, Stephen King, Mary Higgins Clark, Elaine Viets, and many others. My career has mostly been in newspapers and magazines, although fiction writing always called to me. Discovering online writing groups inspired me to get more involved in short fiction.Initially, the transition from nonfiction to fiction was hard, but it was always a heck of a lot of fun. I’ve come thisclose to sometimes hanging it up, but it’s hard to stop the ideas and harder to bury a dream. It simply bubbles back up to the surface, begging to be taken out and polished, crying to find its way into print.

Let’s begin this October by welcoming our October 2013 Featured Author, Christine Verstraete and her novel, Girl Z!


Life can suck when you’re sixteen. It can suck even worse when you’re not- quite- dead.

Sixteen-year-old Rebecca Herrera Hayes faces every teenager’s biggest nightmares: bad skin, bad hair, and worse … turning into one of the living dead.

Becca’s life changes forever when her cousin Spence comes back to their small Wisconsin town carrying a deadly secret—he’s becoming a zombie, a fate he shares with her through an accidental scratch.

The Z infection, however, has mutated, affecting younger persons like her, or those treated early enough, differently. Now she must cope with weird physical changes and habits no girl wants to be noticed for. Then she meets Gabe, a good-looking part-Z like her, and fears falling for him. After all, how can he, who shows hardly any Z symptoms, be interested in someone like her?

But time is running out… Becca needs his help as she and her cousin Carm search for their missing 
mothers and fight off hungry Zs.

Most of all, she needs to find something, anything, to stop this deadly transformation before it is forever too late…

Check her novel on Amazon!

And while you’re online check out her website too!

That’s all for August, but I’m sure Gill would love to hear from you!

Her blog is here.

The A Tale for a Tale website is here.

Her twitter handle is: @FibroChimp

7. What do you think makes Alien Legends different than many other sci-fi stories? Legends is one of those books that’s a mix of what people call Sci Fi and what they call Fantasy. If you looked at the stories on their own then they are each a fantasy story… no humans just a bunch of aliens doing their thing. Then along comes a little bit at the end that says the stories were collected, in return for a tale, by a guy I a space ship… so that makes them Sci Fi right? Well personally I don’t care what it’s called as long as people read and enjoy it.

8. What is your best advice for young writers? Read and write… never stop doing either of them.

9. You’ve lived in quite a few different places. Which place have you loved living the most? That’s a difficult one… I suppose Dartmouth, Devon because that’s where I met my husband and got married and it has the sea… what more could you want?

10. Do you have any new releases coming up in near future? Or anything you’re currently working on? There’s a follow up to Alien Legends… Weird Legends… an anthology of well known and up and coming authors. I have a horror for YA in the pipeline but it needs a tidy up, a most peculiar book about alternate realities set in a welsh school which I’m hoping will be out sometime soon, a woman space detective from Welsh stock is sorting out some murders in another book and I’m currently working on a book about half angels, fairies and demons. I also have a story coming out in an anthology called Looking Landwards and am hoping to go to BristolCon in October to help launch it.

1. What inspired Alien Legends? I don’t think there was any one thing. I’ve always been interested in human myths and legends and in scifi so I combined the two.

2. Do you like writing full-length stories more or poetry? I like writing. I write whatever is in my head, I find poetry easier, don’t ask me why. I have written a couple of novels, one which I’m hoping Greyhart will publish and one I’m still polishing up. But I also have a book of horror poems and short stories in the wings and the odd short story pops into my head and gets put on paper as well.

3. Is there a particular reason you love to write in purple ink? Ah, that would be my big sister’s fault… she started it so you can’t blame me! My eldest sister is 13 yrs older than me and she was the one who would read to me at bedtime and got me interested in books. She also writes in purple ink and purple is my favourite colour.

4. What inspired the start of A Tale for A Tale website? Can you explain a bit more about the site and its premiseThe site was started after Tim at Greyhart loved the idea of paying for a story with a story, the idea behind Alien Legends. He thought it would be a great idea if we could get the children interested in sending us some of their stories and in return we’d send them a story that hasn’t been published yet.

5. What part of Alien Legends is your favorite? I have a fondness for all of the stories in one way or another but Rights of Passage is possibly my favourite. It’s exactly the sort of story I get caught up in as a reader.

1. I live in Wales but was born in London.

2. I have 7 pets.. 2 dogs, one cat, a rat, two mice and a snake.

3. We live by a canal and every year we get hundreds of little frogs and toads all over the garden.

4. I used to work in Dartmouth Royal Naval College and met Prince Andrew but wasn’t thought to be the kind of person to be brought out to meet his mother J

5. If it wasn’t for my fibromyalgia I would probably not have worked hard enough at my writing to get published.

6. My co-editor on Weird Legends is my niece who I dedicated The Legends of Light to because I wrote it for her.

7. I have a little bit of Irish and Gypsy in my blood.


I am a 55 year old mother of three who lives in South Wales. I’ve had a varied working career, including pub landlady and teaching assistant. I’ve been writing most of my life but am a late bloomer when it comes to getting published. I suffer from fibromyalgia so I can’t work anymore which gives me time to write and read. It also gives me an excuse not to do too much housework. I also suffer from tinnitus which may go some way to explain my lack of sanity.

Let’s begin this back-to-school month of August by welcoming our August 2013 Featured Author, Gill Shutt!

From astonishing worlds of fantasy, aliens, and magic, the Repository of Imagination has been collecting tales since the dawn of time. Now, for the first time, selected story spheres from the Repository have been translated into human languages. Open your mind to the splendor of other worlds, to fantastic creatures so alike you humans in some ways, yet in other ways so different. Learn the cautionary tales of those whose lives played out eons before your own.

Alien Legends: A Selection from the Repository of Imagination collects 32 separate stories suitable for young humans aged 11-15 years, and for older readers whose sense of wonder is still functional. Translated from the original alien sources by our August 2013 featured author, Gill Shutt.

Check on the book on Amazon!

And while you’re online check out Gill’s website too!

That’s all for May! But Lauren Tharp would love to have you contact her!


  • Info on her book tour is here.
  • You can email her here.
  • And, of course, you can sign up for newsletters here!
  1. What is the best part about being a published author?

Most of the writing I do is ghostwriting. I’ve written a ton of pieces, but no one will ever know it was me. With The Ballad of Allison and Bandit, I finally have something with my name on it. And it’s something I’m proud of.

I like having something with my name on it that I can share with family and friends. They know that I’m a writer and that I have a writing business, but it’s all been sort of “yeah yeah; sure sure” up until this point. [laughs]. Now I have a published book. Nothing says “real writer” like having a published book! It sort of proved that I am who I said I was all along.

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