Thanks so much for having me over! It’s lovely to have a conversation with another adult without having it end with the words, “Because I said so!”
What is your typical day like? What is your writing routine like?
Very, very different than the “writer’s life” my younger self had created. Instead of inspiring natural landscapes of majestic mountains or idyllic, pristine beaches outside my window, there are stucco walls of my neighbors’ homes, rocks have replaced grass and sand, and those few trees who can survive the Arizona summer are trying desperately to grow on limited amounts of water. I share an office with my hubby and where as others may dream of the day they can retire, I dream of the day where I will have my own office…and it will be beautiful and neat!
When I was younger, I was convinced that as a writer I could set my own schedule, spend time at quaint little cafes and write while indulging in my love of people watching and good teas. Reality is being the proud mom of two boys, the owner of a huge walking fur rug, and the more organized half of a happily married couple which translates into very little “me” time. Those pesky things like food, shelter, family medical insurance all come with a price tag labeled “the-job-that-pays-the bills”. However, I can’t complain too much, because for the last seventeen years I’ve been blessed with a telecommuting position with the same company. It’s been a huge boon.
With all of this, my day starts with a woof when my walking fur rug’s stomach demands food, dragging two boys out of bed and into clothes, pushing them down the stairs to get ready for school, herding them out the door so I can dash back upstairs for my endless rounds of meetings that, I swear, comprises the fourth level of hell. Then, before I know it, the boys are back home with questions that could not be asked of the teachers. Oh no, they must be directed to the parental units. Then the boys want food, the hubby wants attention and maybe by 9 pm, I may be able to take a breath. I learned years ago that if I want to write, I have to make the time. So I do. I’m a horrible mom who bails every week for one day, leaving everyone to fend on their own so I can get time away from all those things that will pull me away from your characters and your world. It has taken years to get over the guilt of putting my writing first even for that short of time, but it’s an essential part of nurturing my creative side. I’m a firm believer if parents make time to do something for themselves, they will actually be better parents/partners to their families. No matter how busy my week is, I know at the end of it, there will be at least 6-8 hours of nothing but me and my MacBook Air.
Summer messes up my writing routing and since the boys just started school again, I’m hoping to use my lunch hour to chip away at my writing. That way, even if it’s only a couple of sentences, I managed to make progress! Those sentences, they can add up fast.
What is most difficult for you to write? Characters, conflict or emotions? Why?
Most difficult? Probably emotions. I have no problems delving into the darker aspects of human nature, but trying to capture an individual’s essence when they’re all balanced and not emotionally damaged, can actually be a challenge for me. I put my characters through a great deal so I can dig deeper into their psyche, because I know if I dig deep enough, I’ll find that little unbalance part of their personality, then I can exploit it.
How likely are people you meet to end up in your next book?
It’s not so much people per se, as various aspects of their personality. I find I tend to note certain personality traits and incorporate those into my characters. I’ll take a couple of different traits, throw them in the bowl, add a few odd spices, let it spin in the creative blender for a bit, before pouring it out to discover what’s been created. I love people watching, and I bet most writers could indulge in the past time for hours on end. It’s so intriguing to see what triggers unique reactions.
Do you have critique partners?
Yes and we have named ourselves The 7 Evil Dwarves, although we currently have eight of us in the group. We’re all Speculative Fiction writers and our ages range from early twenties to late sixties. Without them, I wouldn’t have had the courage to put my stuff out there so my awesome editor could find me. I’m a huge proponent of critique groups—they’ll be the only people who’ll understand the madhouse that lives in your head.
What genres are you drawn to as a reader?
I’m an avid reader and will devour any well-written story so long as it sucks me into their world. I’ve read it all (and I’m not ashamed to admit it!). High fantasy, Sci-Fi, Romance (from sweet to bodice rippers to erotica to paranormal), military thrillers, mysteries of all sorts, and my current favorite—Urban Fantasy. There are many conversations out there about writers reading what they write, and why you should or shouldn’t do it. For me, I enjoy reading in my genre, but I still mix in others, just to spice it up. It allows me to visit fantastic worlds others have created and discover new voices and perspectives.
Do you have any rejection stories to share?
I spent two years getting rejection after rejection. The hardest part of the whole experience was how many times that elusive publishing goal was brushing against my fingertips only to disappear. I had so much great feedback from editors and agents, they loved my voice, they loved my world, they loved my characters…and then there was the “But…” There wasn’t enough sex, the idea of science experimenting on supernatural has been done, it was too dark, etc. Some reasons made me laugh, some confused me to no end, and there were some that I had to shake my head and move on. In the end, I learned to recognize that if more than one person had the same feedback, it needed to be fixed. If not, it may just be a personal thing—not everyone is going to like your writing—and that’s totally okay.
Will you share some encouraging words for authors still struggling for that first contract?
I know you’ve heard it over and over again, but DON’T GIVE UP! Seriously, to succeed in this industry you need to embrace perseverance, which is just another way to say you’re stubborn. Stay true to yourself and your characters. They are screaming inside your head for a reason, give them a voice. You can listen to the naysayers, you can drown in the massive amounts of advice floating in the writing community, but pick out the pieces that resonate with you. Hone your craft, strengthen your voice, bring your world to life and keep going.
What have you learned about yourself recently as a writer (one random thing)?
When writing two different series, be sure to give yourself a break in-between each project. Otherwise the voices start to overlap and you may end up sporting a lovely white jacket with buckles.
How many books have you published (include anthologies)?
My UF/Paranormal Romance series, The Kyn Kronicles, has three titles available from Black Opal Books, plus a short prequel, WRAPPED IN SHADOWS, as part of the anthology, THINGS THAT GO BUMP FOR THE HOLIDAYS:
SHADOW’S EDGE: Bk 1 of The Kyn Kronicles
When the supernatural lurks in the shadows of the mundane, hunting monsters requires unique skills, like those of Raine McCord. A series of deaths threatens to reveal the Kyn community and forces her to partner with the sexy Gavin Durand.
As the trail leads to the foundation haunting Raine’s childhood, she and Gavin must unravel lies and betrayals to discover not only each other, but the emerging threat to them and the entire magical community.
SHADOW’S SOUL: Bk 2 of The Kyn Kronicles *2012 Shooting Star Winner
A simple assignment turns into a nightmare when Raine McCord follows Cheveyo to the Southwest on a consulting gig. When the most feared beings of the Kyn kidnaps Cheveyo and leaves Raine for dead, her ability to heal her mind and spirit hinges on the one man who can touch her soul, Gavin Durand.
Unraveling the Southwest Kyn’s web of secrets and hidden vendettas will either bring them together or tear them apart forever.
SHADOW’S MOON: Bk 3 of The Kyn Kronicles *2013 Golden Claddaugh Finalist
Even wild hearts can be broken–
Tracker, Xander Cade, confronts an enraged Shifter in a crowded human nightclub, fraying the thin secrecy shielding the supernatural community from public scrutiny. Danger stalks the pack and she must protect her alpha and mate, Warrick Vidis, even if he doesn’t want it.
If they don’t find a way to trust each other and accept their rare bond they risk losing everything-their pack, their friends and each other.
The fourth, SHADOW’S CURSE will be out in Fall 2014.
My second series begin July 11th with HUNTED BY THE PAST, a Paranormal Romantic Suspense, the first in my PSY-IV Teams series with MuseItUp Publishing.
HUNTED BY THE PAST
Changing the past is impossible, something ex-Marine, Cynthia “Cyn” Arden, understands all too well. Struggling with the aftermath of a botched mission, a panicked phone call brings her home to face the psychic deviant hunting her.
The killer’s game brings the unsettling and distracting Kayden Shaw, back into her life. Once she believed he’d stand by her, until he chose his job and secrets over her.
To survive, Cyn must risk her heart and accept who and what she is, or lose not only her life, but the man she loves.
Jami Gray grew up on the Arizona-Mexico border, and was adopted at the age of 14 to suddenly become the fifth eldest of 37 children. She graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor’s in Journalism and three minors-History, English, and Theater. (Decision-making was not her forte at the time.) Shortly after marrying her techie-geek hubby (who moonlighted as her best friend in high school) she completed a Masters in Organizational Management from University of Phoenix Oregon.
Now, years later, she’s back in the Southwest where she’s outnumbered in her own home by two Star Wars obsessed boys, one Star Wars obsessed husband, and an overly-friendly, 105-pound male lab. Delving into the wild paranormal worlds where romance collides with suspense and Urban Fantasy is queen, manages to salvage her sanity. Or so we let her believe…
You can find me at: