Interview with Author, Jamie Grey on writing, indie-publishing and the rules of writing

Okay, you guys! I’ve got another great interview for you. I’m lucky to have had the opportunity to interview all these great authors. I’m starting to feel like the Oprah of books! (Side note, I breathed the same air as Oprah once and she gave me a lip gloss. So we’re practically friends).

Today I bring you an interview with the talented indie-author, Jamie Grey. Jamie’s debut novel, Ultraviolet Catastrophe, is a YA Sci-fi that is a MUST read!

You may notice I’ve asked Jamie some of the same questions that I’ve asked other authors. Let me assure you, this is not lazy interviewing; there is method to my madness. It’s fascinating to see how every author answers the same questions differently. My hope in doing this is to help new writers see that every author’s writing process and experience is different.

So now I give you…Jamie Grey.

jamie_LK

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Always? I remember writing down stories as a kid, making little books for my parents and illustrating them. Then about five years ago I stumbled on a critique site, joined and started getting feedback on my writing. I realized that maybe I could actually write things that people wanted to read. I’ve been hooked ever since!

What drew you to the sci-fi genre?

It’s funny, I actually started out writing fantasy. I loved those kinds of books as a kid – getting lost in different worlds, meeting new people. But then I started watching a few sci-fi TV shows a couple of years ago and realized the two genres were actually similar, just with different settings. Somehow when I started writing sci-fi everything just clicked, I felt comfortable and at home. It was surprising, but I’m just going with it for now J I have to say, I’m kind of a genre chameleon so I’m sure I’ll be trying out something new soon!

I’ve read your novel Ultraviolet Catastrophe and some of the concepts in it are pretty impressive. How did you come up them, and how did you make them so believable?

Thanks so much! I actually did a ton of research in physics and science in general to try to grasp some of the concepts (I understood some things better than others. There’s a reason I never stuck with that science degree!). But once I felt like I had a base of knowledge, I played the what-if game. I’m sure real scientists would be appalled with the liberties I’ve taken with the laws of physics! I also just tried to think of cool things I’d like to see in real life.

What made you decide to publish as an indie-author?

I’ll be honest, it was a tough decision. I’d always thought that I’d be traditionally published, but with all the changes going on in the industry, and after some great feedback from agents, I decided the best thing for my career right now was to go indie. Everything is in so much flux that I wanted to see what happened before taking that leap. And honestly, I haven’t regretted it once! I’m actually mad at myself for not self publishing sooner. It’s so much fun to see a book from start to finish, to pick the cover and design the interior and make sure everything is just the way I want it. It’s perfect for my control-freak self! And the instant gratification is fantastic!

Most readers only get to read a finished, polished novel. And this can be somewhat confusing to new writers, who find that writing the first draft is not always so simple. What does your first draft really look like?

Ha! My first drafts are always one big mess. I fell in love with fast drafting back during my very first NanoWrimo, and that’s basically the process I use to draft every book now. I usually create an outline to make sure I know where to go, but once that’s down, I just get out of my own way and write. It also means that there’s lots to fix once that first draft is finished. I write fairly lean, so I usually have to go back and layer several times – character arc, sensory details, internal thoughts, plot points.

I’m also a habitual offender of using “story research” to procrastinate, so I’ve taken to leaving myself notes on things I’ll need to research later, names I need to create, or bits of dialogue I’ll need to add. If it slows me down, I skip over it and come back later. But that also means I have plenty of little gems like “insert sex scene here” or “find science-y device to use here” scattered throughout the MS.

How many drafts do you write before you have a finished novel?

I think it depends on the book. Most of the time, I have my draft zero, the word vomit draft. Then I’ll do a pass to fix plot points, add descriptions and characterizations. I usually send it to my first round betas at that point. Once I get their feedback I do another edit before sending it to the next round betas. Usually I’ll do at least one more full edit after I get those comments back, sometimes two to make sure I’ve added in everything.

So that’s, um, 3-4 drafts/edits, and then the copy edit.

Do you use critique partners or writing groups?

I’ve done both actually. Right now I have critique partners that I’ve connected with online who are invaluable to me in getting my work where it needs to be. But when I was first starting out, I was part of an online writing group that was really helpful in learning how to critique other people’s work and accept feedback on my own. It was a great experience for me just starting out as a serious writer.

Do you have any strange writing habits?

Not really. I try to sneak in writing at work or whenever I can, so I’m pretty good at just diving in. I usually have to go back and read a few pages from the day before, but other than that, I just start writing. I will admit I have a pair of lucky fingerless gloves sitting beside my computer at all times. I can’t type at ALL if my fingers are cold. And they’re cute. An added bonus 🙂

What has been the most exciting moment in your writing career thus far?

I have to say there have been tons! I think the most exciting moment was when those first reviews for Ultraviolet Catastrophe started to come in. Strangers had read my book. And liked it! Such an amazing feeling. And connecting with fans was so humbling.

I have to admit, getting that first royalty check, as small as it was, ranks right up there too!

What has been the most challenging?

I think the whole publishing/writing process is so full of subjectivity and unknowns it can cause a lot of stress. Should I self publish or try for a traditional deal? Why don’t people like my book? Why isn’t it selling more? I don’t always deal well with ambiguity, and in this business that’s pretty much all there is. What works once may never work again and what’s right for one book, could be completely wrong for the next. So staying flexible and keeping my options open has been a huge challenge.

How do you measure success as an indie author?

That’s a tough one. I think it’s different for every book. For Ultraviolet Catastrophe, just getting the book published and out made it successful to me. Sure I wanted sales, but since it’s my first published book, I didn’t expect it to become a blockbuster. I think my ultimate measure of success is if I break even on what I spent to publish it. I’m more than half way there J

What are the most important steps to take before publishing independently?

Since I’m still new at this, I’m still trying to figure it out myself! I think learning the craft of writing is crucial. Writing a good book is the base for everything else. I think lining up resources is also a good idea – find a good editor, copy editor, cover artist, proofreader, book designer, etc. You need to trust them and be able to work well with them. It’ll make your life easier. And it will make your book better. Don’t skimp on editing!

I also think promotion is important. Don’t spend a ton of money, but do try to request reviews, do a cover reveal, write some articles. Let people know your book is coming. I still struggle with that myself, so I get that it’s tough, but it will help in the long run.

And I think most importantly, be grateful to everyone who helps you along the way, who leaves a review or kind comment, or just takes the time to congratulate you.  Everyone’s busy and they took time out of their day to do that.

Let’s talk about “The Rules of Writing?” We see them so often—agents, editors and writing-gurus all want to offer their helpful and sometimes confusing tips. But then we see our favorite authors break these rules time and time again.

What are your thoughts on:

Adverbs – Oh adverbs. Everyone loves to hate them. I try not to use them over-much, but sometimes, an adverb is the only word that will work. I think they have their place,  just don’t use them as a crutch. I think people go too far in hating those poor little words J

Using anything other than “said” to carry dialog –  I rarely use anything other than said, but I don’t use said that much either. I’m a big fan of using action or movement to indicate who’s talking. A tip I learned from a fantastic editor a few years ago. It’s made a world of difference in my writing.

Avoiding detailed descriptions of people, places or things – There’s such a fine line with description, especially in science fiction. You want enough so that people can picture the scene and what’s going on, but too much can make readers’ eyes glaze over. I don’t actively avoid descriptions, I just try to be smart about it and weave it in seamlessly rather than being info dumpy-about it.

Character thought exposition “He knew”, “She thought” etc… – I wrote my current book in 3rd person and I worked hard to keep those out of my writing when at all possible. I know that it can reduce the immediacy and connection between the reader and story, and there’s usually another way to get the point across. But like all rules, there are always times when you’re going to need to use those kinds of exposition.

Who or what do you look to for inspiration when writing?

Hm. I get inspiration from all over. I’m a visual person, so images or pictures are big for me. Video games and movies have sparked story ideas. A good soundtrack can get me inspired to write. And I think my friends and critique partners are pretty good at keeping me motivated and writing when I don’t want to.

What can we expect in 2014 from Jamie Grey?

ALL the books! LOL, ok, maybe not all of them. I’m publishing a science-fiction space opera trilogy this year. The first book – The Star Thief will be out February 4th. I also want to write a few short stories set in that world. And I’m toying with a new adult contemporary story idea. With spies. So yeah, I’m going to be busy this year! I can’t wait.

Jamie’s debut novel, Ultraviolet Catastrophe is available now in ebook and paperback (I have the paperback because the cover is simply gorgeous)  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00FBP2YRG/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_WDDOsb1C5NCNN

Find it on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18041050-ultraviolet-catastrophe

Grey_Ultraviolet_web

Quantum Electrodynamics. String Theory. Schrödinger’s cat. For sixteen-year-old Lexie Kepler, they’re just confusing terms in her science textbooks, until she finds out that her parents have been drugging her to suppress her outrageous IQ. Now Branston Academy, a school run by the world’s most powerful scientists, has tracked her down and is dying for her to attend – as a research subject.

She takes refuge at Quantum Technologies, a secret scientific community where her father works as a top-notch scientist, and begins her new life as girl genius at Quantum High. But the assignments at her new school make the Manhattan Project look like preschool – and Lexie barely survived freshman algebra.

Her first big assignment – creating an Einstein-Rosen bridge – is also her first chance to prove she can hold her own with the rest of QT’s prodigies. But while working with the infuriatingly hot Asher Rosen, QT’s teen wonder, Lexie uncovers a mistake in their master equation. Instead of a wormhole, the machine they’re building would produce deadly ultraviolet rays that could destroy the world. Now Lexie and Asher have to use their combined brainpower to uncover the truth behind the device. Before everyone at Quantum Technologies is caught in the ultraviolet catastrophe.

And coming February 4th, 2014 by Jamie Grey, THE STAR THIEF.

She might only be twenty-three, but Renna Carrizal is the most notorious thief in the galaxy. There’s just one problem – all she wants is to get the frak out.

But when Renna rescues an injured boy from the warehouse she’s casing, she finds herself on the run from the mob instead of enjoying retirement on a garden world. Turns out, the kid was a plant to lead her to MYTH, a top-secret galactic protection agency. MYTH needs Renna’s special skills and they make her an offer she can’t refuse – declining will send her straight to a prison ship for the rest of her life.

To make sure she does her job they shackle her with a MYTH watchdog, the handsome but arrogant Captain Finn. A former mercenary-turned-galactic-hero, Finn happens to have his own dirty secrets. Secrets that Renna wouldn’t mind uncovering for herself. Together, they discover the attacks are an experiment to develop illegal cybernetics that will create an unstoppable army.

The intended target? The human star fleet.

Now Renna must use her skills as the Star Thief to pull off the biggest job of her career – saving the galaxy. And herself.

Find it on Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/19146092-the-star-thief

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2 thoughts on “Interview with Author, Jamie Grey on writing, indie-publishing and the rules of writing

  1. TK says:

    I’ve probably said this before, but I’m going to say this again. I love reading these interviews. As someone who is just starting out, the whole book writing thing is such a question mark. It’s comforting to know I’m not alone in being stressed out by that.

  2. Oh, good! I’m glad someone get something out of it. :). I’ll keep trying to post more like it. Any special topic requests?

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