A Let me see if I can expand beyond the ‘I was born, grew up, and here I am’ status. I hit the world on an Air force base on the southeast coast and within twelve months had moved to the Northwest, where I remained until age six. Then it was southward bound to drier climes. I bounced around the Southwest until age twelve when I became the fifth eldest in a very, very large family (think double digits for kid amount). After graduating high school, I did the college thing for so long friends and family thought I’d be a professional student. I’ll admit there were days when I thought the same thing. In my late twenties I married by best bud from high school after we reconnected. We tried living back in the Northwest but it was way too damp so we ended back down in the desert where we now live with our two boys and a lab who doubles as a mini-pony. Yes, I do have a job that pays the bills on top of writing, but lucky for me, it’s a position that allows me to telecommute.
Q Do you consider yourself a shy and/or introverted person?
A I do, but some friends disagree. Here’s the thing, I am much more comfortable staying at home or in the background and watching others. I find it intriguing to people watch, but once I’m comfortable around a group, I’ll start to peek out of my corner or from around my very social hubby.
Q In what ways has being shy or introverted hindered your writing career?
A For me it was finding a critique group and putting myself or my writing out there. It was one thing to submit works if I could mail it in and no one would ever know who I was, but it was a whole other bag of worms if I had to physically sit there and listen to a critique. I always, always over think things and receiving a critique was like running razors over my soul. It took me years of trial and error to find my current critique group, The 7 Evil Dwarves. What worked for me was keeping my critique group small with like minded individuals. If they could get my twisted sense of humor, then it was less likely I would end up being carted off in a straight jacket. In the six years we’ve been together, they are a huge reason I was finally published. If I hadn’t had their constant threats…I mean encouragement…I don’t think I would have had the guts to keep submitting my writing to editors and publishers. Even now when I attend conferences and do those editor/agent pitches you would think I was going in to be skinned alive and my critique partner is pretty much dragging my shaking, nervous wreck in behind her.
Q In what ways has being shy or introverted helped your writing career?
A This is probably easier to answer than any other question. I live so much in my head that transferring those worlds spinning around in there to paper is the easy part. For me, the fact that I tend to sit back and watch the world around me, allows me to create detailed characters and worlds for my stories. Delving into what motivates my characters and causes them to react they way they do in various situations makes them more “real”, which in turn draw readers deeper into a story. Life and people are naturally complex, and that complexity should be reflected in your writing.
Q What’s the hardest part of this business for you?
A Pitching in person. Doesn’t matter if it’s an editor, agent or my next door neighbor, trying to creatively explain my books verbally is hard. My work around is to write out various pitches or blurbs so I’m not caught flatfooted when I’m asked, “So, what’s your book about?”. Even though I’ve spent years doing theater, I still stutter when I’m not prepared. Maybe it’s being introverted, or maybe it’s being OCD, but either way I find myself doing mental rehearsals of what to say in case I’m faced with this situation.
Q Tell me about a time that you had to step outside your comfort zone, either in your writing career or in your personal life?
A I was attending a writer’s conference a couple years ago with my critique partner and I had two pitch sessions. One with a big name New York editor and one with a large e-pub house editor. I spent days before hand writing up various pitches, word for word. Then I would torment myself with the “what-if” scenarios…what if they ask this question? I wanted to be prepared and not sound like an airhead. I have the unfortunate tendency to sound spacey when I’m nervous. It didn’t help that little voices in the back of my head were going on about how these very important people had heard it all and what if your idea was trite, or that I would appear to be a very obvious newbie writer. It took a great deal to block out that annoying little twit. I had to offer it lots of chocolate to get it to shut-up.
The pitch session with the New York editor was not good. Nerves had my words spilling out at a hundred miles per hour, my hands shook so bad I had to hide them under the table, and we just didn’t connect. I had a few minutes in between pitch sessions and as I went over to my second session, I was almost in tears. I pulled up my big girl panties, took a deep breath and sat down making sure my smile was in place. This time I would treat the pitch as if I was talking to someone in my critique group. Boy did it help. I made a real connection to the second editor as we talked. Strangely enough we ended up discussing a possible story idea I had been tossing around for few minutes and then I was able to get some great answers to questions I hadn’t realized I had about the whole publishing industry overall. It was lovely as I realized that even the editors and publishers can be just as nervous as the writers sitting across from them.
Q What’s one tip you could share with shy and introverted people that’s helped you?
A Wow, that’s a tough one. Shy writers tend not to want to put their writing out there because it’s such a piece of them, but remember your readers don’t know you, but they get to share in your stories. How are they going to enjoy the worlds and characters you create if you don’t set it out there? When it’s been too hard for me to do on my own, I wrap my shaky, cold fingers in a death grip on my critique partners’ hands and hold on. They’re there to stand beside me regardless of how the reader winds blow. They haven’t steered me wrong yet, so I think I’ll keep holding on, because I’ve learned it’s okay to lean on my friends as they push from behind!
Q Would you please share a short blurb of your book and where my readers can buy it?
A I’d love to! Shadow’s Edge is the first book in the Kyn Kronicles and can be bought e-format or trade paperback at Black Opal Books (www.BlackOpalBooks.com ). It’s also available at Amazon, ARe, Smashwords, and Barnes and Noble.
It takes a monster to hunt one, and for Raine McCord, forged in the maelstrom of magic and science, she’s the one for the job. In a world where the supernatural live in a shadowy existence with the mundane, a series of disappearances and deaths threatens the secrecy of her kind and indicates someone knows the monsters are alive and kicking. Partnering up with the sexy and tantalizing Gavin Durand proves to be a challenge as dangerous as the prey she hunts.
When the trail points back to the foundation which warped Raine’s magic as a child, her torturous past raises its ugly head. Gavin and Raine sift through a maze of lies, murder and betrayal to discover not only each other, but the emerging threat to them and the entire magical community.
Q Where can my readers find you on the web?
A You can hunt me down at:
Blogs: http://7evildwarves.wordpress.com/ or http://jamigray.wordpress.com/
Thanks for being here today, Jami!