Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Jami Gray. She writes Science Fiction & Fantasy, Romance, Suspense novels. Jami is the author of The Kyn Kronicles series.
Science Fiction & Fantasy, Romance, Suspense
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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.
SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author
Let’s start with what’s next. Do you have another book on the horizon? Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?
Actually we have a couple coming down the pike. I’m currently finishing up a collection of short stories based in the Kyn Kronicles universe, which should be out in late 2015. There will be five short stories that follow the timeline of the series. Then, in early 2016, the second title in my PSY-IV Teams series, TOUCHED BY FATE, will be out from MuseIt Up Publishing. My project plate runneth over for next year as the ultimate goal is to have three novels completed by end of 2016 (book 3 of PSY-IV Teams, book 5 of the Kyn Kronicles, and the first in a new series).
Here’s TOUCHED BY FATE’s blurb:
Trusting him with her secrets is dangerous. Trusting him with her heart could be fatal.
As a specialized consultant for the Department of Defense, Risia Lacoste understands the bargaining chip of a well-kept secret. When her current assignment threatens to unearth her deeply buried skeletons, she’s forced into a high-stakes game of lies and loyalty where even her ability to foresee the future can’t predict the winner.
Darkness lies under the skin of every man, and PSY-IV Team operative and touch empath, Tag Gunderson, has the demons to prove it. Scarred by betrayal and disillusionment, he’s not Risia’s top pick for a partner in the game, but he’s all she’s got.
As the game draws them deeper into a pit of intrigue and their list of enemies grow, will Risia trust Tag with more than her secrets or will his demons destroy them both?
You have a good following on twitter. Since you started before the social media buzz, what impact has social media relationships had on your current success? How did you build your following in your niche? How much has it changed your book launch process?
My first book came out late 2011, and while I logically understood the concept of an author’s platform, I had no idea what I was doing. I created a website, set up a Facebook page, and a Twitter account, and then I flew by the seat of my pants. Six books and four years later, I still maintain a weekly blog, added an author page to my Facebook page, and Twitter just keeps growing. Plus we’ve tacked on other social media outlets (Google+, Goodreads, Pinterest, newsletter).
Social media is key in reaching your readers on a personal level. I tend to prefer Facebook, mainly because I don’t have to limit my characters, but I try to make sure I’m fairly regular across all outlets. Writers are reminded often to stay personable to their readers, and today’s social media can really give a writer that forum to make connections, not just to readers, but within the artistic community.
I’m an avid reader, so I have a long list of authors I follow. When I first set up my Twitter account, I went and peeked at who followed them and who they followed, and then I began to build my own lists. When I reach out to readers, I try to see it from their perspective: what would they find interesting/entertaining? Those are the things I try to share. As for book launches, I’ve found the writing community to be a wonderful source of support. Initially, for the first two titles, I used promotional companies to help me find blogs with readerships that fit my genre, but over the years I’ve managed to create a great network of readers/writers/reviewers that I can hit up. For example, this summer, Shadow’s Edge is up for free, and since I had the time, I decided to create and plan my summer tour on my own. When I reached out through my various writing communities, I was humbled by the massive, positive response that has allowed me to be all over the web for three months spreading the word.
Word of advice for those writers just starting out: be sure you reciprocate. Be willing to host writers on your blogs, whether you have a release out or not. That give and take is vital to a successful relationship with your writing communities.
Do you do any book signings, interviews, speaking and personal appearances? If so, when and where is the next place where your readers can see you? Where can they keep up with your personal contacts online?
I do interviews all over the blog-o-sphere. Every time I have a guest post, I put it up on my Facebook and Twitter so if readers want to follow along they can. Plus, I have a page on my website with my summer schedule of who’s at my place, as well. I just finished recording my second radio interview with Hollywood Book Trailers. That particular interview should be up in fall. On June 29, The Author’s Show will be broadcasting my radio interview all day. I can share I have tentative plans to attend both Romantic Times in Las Vegas in 2016 and RWA’s conference in San Diego in 2016.
You have great covers. They carry a theme and your brand with them. How does your book cover creation process work? Do you hand over the basic theme or do you have more of a hands-on approach? Do you get your readers involved in its development?
I have to credit Kim Killion and Hot Damn Designs for my Kyn covers. HUNTED BY THE PAST’s cover was done by the fantastic MuseIt Up cover artist, Celairen. I’m pretty particular about my covers. I think I’ve driven both Kim and Celarien to drink. Since I write in series, theme consistency is key. I want my readers to see a cover and go, “I know that series!”.
For the Kyn, I work with Kim, normally I have some vague idea of what I’m looking for, and she somehow reads my mind and manages to pick up what I’m looking for. With Celarien, I shared various images I use for character inspiration, general ideas and color schemes, and then we go back and forth. Cover artists are some of the most patient, most insightful artists I’ve ever met. Writers are great with words, but to create the visual from our descriptions take a unique and enviable talent. I haven’t yet got my readers involved in the process, but you never know what the future holds.
You have converted Shadow's Edge into an audio book. What has been the impact on your regular sales? Has the audio books gained a new audience for you?
Right now, SHADOW’S EDGE is my only book in Audible. My publisher, Black Opal Books, is working diligently to expand that, but the process is fairly involved. I haven’t noticed a correlation between having SHADOW’S EDGE in audio and my print sales, but I would love to have all my titles in audio. I know quite a few readers who prefer audio vs. book. I think if I could expand my audio offerings, I could reach a larger audience.
You have written a short story called Wrapped in Shadows which you bundled with some other authors. Are shorty’s one of your styles of writing or are they created to give readers a sample of your work?
Actually, shorts are one of the hardest story types for me to write in. As a series writer, I prefer full length novels. WRAPPED IN SHADOWS was my first attempt at shorts, and I was thrilled to have an opprotunity to give readers a glimpse into the Kyn world and discover some great writers. The collection of shorts I plan on releasing in Fall came about from this initial short. As a reader of series, I love getting a chance to see an author’s world and style before I rush out and snatch up every book they’ve written, which made me consider how I could tempt new readers.
I finally decided that if I could offer a series of short stories that followed the series, ones that would enhance current readers, but also work to lure new ones in, then I could also indulge in sharing what happens to my characters in between the books. Collections like this don’t just make your readers gleeful; they offer writers a chance to share the “off stage” life of their characters.
I like the idea of Author bundles. You are a part of a short story collection called Things That Go Bump For The Holidays Anthology. What was the impact on your other sales? What was the main objective of bundling your works with other romance authors? How did you put something like that together?
THINGS THAT GO BUMP FOR THE HOLIDAYS was a collective concept from the writers of Black Opal Books. We split into two groups: Paranormal and non-paranormal. Then we created two different anthologies. It was fun to do, made me stretch outside my comfort zone and attempt short story writing, but it also provided a great vehicle for readers to discover new writers. I think anthologies are a great way to get in front of new readers, but you, the writer, still need to be critical in which bundles/anthologies you want to take part in. You don’t want to be in an overly large bundle because you might get lost, you want to make sure your genre fits with the overall reader being targeted. As for sales, it helped give the Kyn a bump, and it still will bring in a new reader here or there.
What has been your experience in giving your books away free? Have you been involved in any other type of giveaways and how did that work out? What was your main goal in doing this? Did you run into any obstacles?
This question is so fitting. This is actually the first time I’ve given any book away free. SHADOW’S EDGE is free through the end of August. It took me a long time to make this decision because writing is not painless, much like any artistic creation, I pour my heart into my stories, and it hurts to give it away free. What finally tipped my hand, came down to time. With four books out in the Kyn Kronicles, one in the PSY-IV Teams, with a second on its way, I decided that if I wanted a way to push my stories to the front of the book herd, I needed a way to catch potential readers’ attention. While writing is an art, being an author is a business and logic dictates, if you can get a reader to pick up your first book, and they enjoy it, they’ll be more likely to go and pick up the next, and the next, and so on. They’ll also spread the word.
My goal with putting SHADOW’S EDGE up for free for the summer was to garner new readers, who’d go out and pick up the rest of the series, and if they were still with me, try my PSY-IV Team series. So long as I can continue to produce well written, intriguing books on a fairly consistent schedule, I’m hoping to keep my readers’ appetite fed.
Do you maintain a reader list? What are the methods you use to find your readers and create the list and the relationship? Do you use social media, forums, newsletters and/or support groups to build your list?
The only list I keep is my newsletter list. I only send out two a year, basically to help spread the word on new releases or specials. I’ve used some giveaway lists to help create that list (so long as the reader indicated it was okay to do so), and I have a link on my website, but most of my relationships with readers exist on Facebook or through my website.
You have a great website. You do a great job keeping readers informed, marketing your books and helping other writers with guest interviews. What is your primary goal? And where in the world do you find the time to create great novels, take care of the social media and maintain your blog?
Aww, thank you. When I first began working with an author platform, one the main pieces of advice I kept running across was to make sure you blogged regularly. Now for some that’s everyday, but I know me, and if I don’t want to end up bald, once a week is what I can manage. At first I used my blog to share my journey from final draft to publication, then again to share the ups and downs of writing the Kyn Kronicles, then to share when I added the PSY-IV Team series with a second publisher, then to tackle the various things I was learning as I went along (writer tips, challenges of a day job while writing, etc.).
Two years ago, because I didn’t want my blog to become repetitive I decided it was time to indulge my reader side, and I reached out to some of my favorite authors and spent a solid year doing one to two interviews a month of writers like Kevin Hearne, Jennifer Estep, Kaylea Cross, Cindy Gerard, Faith Hunter, and then I wanted to support other new writers I knew. Now, I keep a tab with all those who’ve been so wonderful to stop by and visit on their own page (Archive of Guest Interviews). I still host interviews, as a matter of fact this summer is booked. In between I still share the trials and tribulations of writing, and the other challenges I’m still facing.
Blogs are a wonderful way to share information and maybe help a fellow writer out, or share a peek behind the scenes for readers. My website is basically my place to share what’s happening with my writing, and share my discoveries. I have to stick to a schedule when it comes to social media, otherwise I’d slip into that deep abyss and disappear forever. I’ve managed to complete two full length novels (300+ pages) per year, but following a daily word count goal. When my job-that-paid-the-bills had to reduce their workforce, I finally decided it was time to up my game, and now I’m hoping to complete three novels a year. I know, juggling three series might just be enough to send me to the looney bin, but I’m not writing because I’m sane.
Author's Book List
- The Kyn Kronicles ~ Book 4
As the leader of the Amanusa, Natasha Bertoi thrives on chaos, but when tragedy strikes the Northwest Kyn, leaving bodies and betrayal in its wake, not even she is prepared for the fallout. With Northwest houses in an uproar and the Wraiths hungry for blood, all her carefully laid plans are put to the test as she wards off the greedy clutches of the ruling Kyn Council. Her plans and pawns are moving along nicely, until he joins the game.
Whispers of treachery draw Darius Abazi to the Northwest in search of justice honed with vengeance. After years of protecting the Council and its secrets he harbors no illusions on how lies can be twisted into truth. As death stalks the Northwest Kyn, he faces off with the beautiful, but manipulative Natasha to uncover the mastermind behind it all.
A dangerous attraction lures the two predators into a deadly game, where one wrong move could destroy all that Natasha holds dear.
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Hunted by the Past
- PSY-IV Teams
A reluctant psychic who can relive the past, a man well versed in keeping secrets, and a psychopathic killer enter a deadly game where the past determines the future.Changing the past is an impossibility ex-Marine, Cynthia “Cyn” Arden, understands all too well. Struggling in the aftermath of a botched mission, which cost her two teammates, her military career, and a fledging relationship, she’s brought home by a panicked phone call. The psychic killer behind her nightmares has escaped military custody to hunt down the remaining teammates, one by one. Next on his murderous list—Cyn. Her only chance at survival is to master the psychic ability she’s spent years denying.The killer’s game brings her face to face with the one person guaranteed to throw her off kilter—the unsettling and distracting man she left behind, Kayden Shaw. Once she believed he’d stand by her side, until he chose his job and his secrets over her. A choice that’s left the scars of the past etched deep on her mind and heart.To survive this twisted game, Cyn must risk trusting her heart and accepting who and what she is, or lose not only her life, but the man she loves.
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Barnes and Noble
- The Kyn Kronicles ~ Book 3
A blonde, a brunette, and a monster walk into a bar and all hell breaks loose…
It should have been the start of a bad joke, but Xander Cade, Tracker for the Northwest Motoki Pack, finds nothing funny about confronting an enraged shifter in a crowded Portland nightclub filled with unsuspecting humans. The resulting carnage begins to fray the thin veil of secrecy shielding the supernatural Kyn community from public scrutiny. It also ensures there is no escaping the one man she’s been determined to avoid, her alpha and mate, Warrick Vidis.
Dominating, protective, and compelling, he threatens her individuality like no other…
As the alpha wolf, compromise isn’t in Warrick’s vocabulary, but when Xander refuses to leave off the hunt for a killer, he has no qualms about using whoever or whatever is necessary to protect her and his pack. A series of unusual deaths, along with anonymous threats against him and the pack, begin to jeopardize his normally steely control. Add in Xander’s continual reluctance to fully accept their Soul Bond, and the line between intellect and instinct begins to blur, leaving him wondering if one woman’s love and acceptance will be enough to save both man and wolf.
As the danger escalates, threatening not just their pack but those closest to them, Warrick and Xander must find a way to trust each other and accept their rare bond, or risk losing everything—their pack, their friends, and each other.
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- The Kyn Kronicles - Book 2
All she had to do was keep one man safe…
Raine McCord has no problem taking down the monsters of the world, it’s one of the reasons she’s so good at her job. So playing bodyguard to Cheveyo, head Magi of the Northwest, as he consults with the Southwest Kyn should be an easy assignment. Unfortunately, the simple task turns into a nightmare when Cheveyo is kidnapped and Raine is left for dead by one of the Kyn’s most feared beings, a Soul Stealer.
The Stealer’s attack leaves lasting wounds, undermining Raine’s confidence as a warrior and damaging her unruly magic. Her ability to heal her mind and spirit hinges on the one man who can touch her soul, Gavin Durand. Compelled to face the emotions raging between them, they must embrace not only their stormy relationship but their evolving magic to escape the twisted threads of murder and betrayal to find Cheveyo.
As Raine and Gavin come together and begin to unravel the complex web of secrets and hidden vendettas haunting the Southwest Kyn, they discover unsettling new truths that threaten their very existence.
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- The Kyn Kronicles -- Book 1
Everyone fears what hunts in the shadows…especially the monsters.
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.
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