Guest Post: Jami Gray

Isn’t it great to have others do your work for you? MUHAHAHAHAAA!!!

Hello everyone! Tom here with something different. Today I have a fellow author handling my daily grind content. I asked some writing related questions, so sit down and read them all, I’ll know if you didn’t!

Introducing the venerable Jami Gray:

Jami Gray is the award-winning, multi-published author of the Urban Fantasy series, The Kyn Kronicles, and the Paranormal Romantic Suspense series, PSY-IV Teams. She can be soothed with coffee and chocolate. Surrounded by Star Wars obsessed males and two female labs moonlighting as the Fur Minxes, she escapes by playing with the voices in her head.

Did I mention she has a ton of books to read? Let’s get to my questions for her:

You and I first met in a critique group. How important are critique groups and if you could put together your “ultimate group” with famous authors, who would you want in it?

I’m a huge believer in critique groups. Writing is such a solitary endeavor, and I know from my own experience, garnering enough courage to put my writing in front of others to be eviscerated was the first big step toward the ultimate goal of authorship. Our stories truly are a piece of use, and waving those precious pieces around like red tidbits in front of a frothing bull can be more frightening than running down a dark alley being chased by well-armed gnomes mounted on rabid flamingos. A good critique group will examine your story, poking and prodding until your creation is the best it can be. That doesn’t mean they last forever (as we well know, unfortunately) because as a writer moves into their own, their critique needs change, which means your critique group may evolve into writing partners (like mine did). No matter what, as a writer, your support group is crucial because this profession is far from easy.

If I had to do a  well-known crit group, I’d have to limit my requests because there are so many I’d love to have and ask for the following:

  • Anne Bishop and Patricia Briggs: Both of these writers dominate on world building. I would like some of that mojo! Anne’s worlds in both her Black Jewels series and her Others series suck you in until you don’t want to leave. As does Patricia’s Mercy Thompson’s series, where it’s so realistic you really believe you could end up in the Tri-City area of Washington, see a VW bus and know it was Mercy behind the wheel, with either a vamp or couple of werewolves hiding in the back.
  • Kevin Hearne and Jim Butcher: Creating characters such as Kevin’s ancient druid-slash-bookstore owner, Atticus, and his opinionated Irish Wolfhound, Oberon, or Jim’s bumbling-but-effective-magician, Harry Dresden are around, you know you’re in for fun. Not only do these characters contain unexpected depth, but they have mastered the use of snark right along with magic.
  • Stephen King and Christine Feehan: Yes, I know, two more different authors you would be hard pressed to name, but I love both. Their stories, be it horror or romance, weave all the necessary story elements into each of their tales. These are two authors who’ve nailed how to keep their readers coming back for more. This, too, is a mojo I would appreciate having.

How many stages did you go through as a writer? (For instance, I wanted to be a writer when I was a teenager, but then life got in the way in my 20’s, I started up again when I was 35 but I never showed my work to anyone. I joined a critique group when I was 38 and that took it to the next level. Each one of those I would consider a “phase” in my writing career.

I’ve always been an avid reader since I can remember, so being a writer was always around. However, I didn’t start writing fiction until high school. Prior to that, I stuck to poetry and really bad sketch art. I was adopted at 14 and one of the suggestions given by my state-mandated therapist was to keep a journal. I figured that was too boring, so I livened it up and wrote stories instead. I have a trunk novel (one that shall never, ever see the light of day!) that I started in high school and continued until I graduated. Then it was off to college, where I got a bit sidetracked, even though I would jot down snippets here and there. It wasn’t until I was a mom of two boys under 5 that I decided to finally follow through and write. I was 32. At 34 I joined a writers group for moms. It was a great kick in the pants, and even though I ended up with a non-fic piece on NPR, I left and began the hunt for a speculative fiction critique group. By 36 I found one, and I was off and running. Now I write nearly every day and can’t imagine not writing.

Followup: What is the next stage in your writing career you are going for?

First I must survive getting said two boys into post high school education, but I would like to eventually move my writing to full-time. However, writing is not the way to financial freedom, so until me and my Knight in Slightly Muddy Armor are at a point we can live on one income, writing will be a second job to the day job. Right now I have two series (one Urban Fantasy, one Paranormal Romantic Suspense) with two different publishers, and I’m currently shopping a third series around for a home. While I enjoy the reassurance of a publisher behind me, indie publishing is not out of the running. Right now my editors are teaching me a great deal, and the business end of writing can be daunting (financially and emotionally). Maybe when my personal plate is a little less full, I’ll be able to explore it further. For now, I’m trying to stay on track with getting two books out a year.

Do you read the same things that you write? Why or why not?

Nope. Depending on what my current project is, I will try to avoid reading in that genre while it’s under construction. I don’t want to worry that I’m slipping into a highly influenced voice or that the sudden light bulb moment I’ve encountered is actually my subconscious stealing from what I’ve been reading. Besides, when I read, it’s to get away for a bit and if I’m writing in a genre, that’s my world, so reading in the same genre isn’t an escape.

What is the one other genre—as different as possible from what you currently write—that you would want to write in but don’t. Why do you not write in that genre?

Techno-thriller or conspiracy theory thriller. Granted it’s not too far away from my genres’ now, but those two would do it. Since one of the benefits of hooking up with my Knight in Slightly Muddy Armor was his tech expertise, technology and I don’t do well together. I tend to find myself arguing with Siri in my car. Could you imagine if I had to do 300 pages of tech? Yeah, I think it would end badly. As for conspiracy theory thriller, I think I’d scare myself silly, so nope to that too.

What two pieces of advise would you give to someone who wants to be a writer but hasn’t done anything with? One should be sugarcoated, and the other should be harsh reality.

Polite advice: Writers write, and if you haven’t yet, sit down and try. You won’t know if you can until you do.

Reality Check: If you haven’t written a thing, it ain’t happening. Stop dreaming about being a writer and do the damn work.

Of those two pieces of advise, knowing what you know now, which do you wish you had heard when you were first starting out that would have improved you more?

Make sure you have a business plan in place because writing is the first step on a very long and difficult road. Learn about all the aspects of the industry, craft, marketing, business operations, all of it is necessary.

Fantastic answers. I love this QA format, and I think I might do this with more authors. I love listening to advice from other authors, everyone has a slightly different story to tell. Below you can find links to Jami’s blog, her works, and more about her, definitely check her out!

Till Tomorrow,


Jami Gray


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