GRACIE: I’m excited to have you here at The G-Spot, Jami! Please tell us a little about yourself (or a lot J) and how and when you got into writing?
JAMI: I’ve been writing since I was old enough to know the alphabet. I finished my first book when I was 5 or 6 about a horse named Wildfire and illustrated it myself. I guess I’ve always had the writing bug. I was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. I’d never live anywhere else.
My first book was published in 2008 by Siren Publishing. I write sexy romantic comedy, sports hero romances, and equestrian fiction from my small farm on the Olympic Peninsula. I share the farm with my husband, a former Green Beret turned plumber, a Newfoundland cross with a tennis ball fetish, an obsessed barker, a prince disguised as an orange tabby cat, and an opinionated Hanoverian mare.
I work in IT for my day job, and I’m a former high school business teacher. In my spare time, I ride and occasionally show dressage horses and grow roses. An avid boater, I’ve spent countless hours in the San Juan Islands, the setting for my first two books and my fifth book which is still in progress. The Islands are, in my opinion, the most beautiful place on earth.
GRACIE: Is there any one thing or person in your life that inspired your writing? Any one thing or person that influenced the genre you write in?
JAMI: Well, I’ve always loved contemporary romances, starting way back with Danielle Steele’s The Promise and Sandra Brown’s Mirror Image. I also love Susan Elizabeth Phillips. As far as personal influences, my RWA chaptermates have been invaluable to me, especially Lucy Monroe, Dawn Calvert, Allie K, Adams, Adrianne Lee, and Theresa Scott.
GRACIE: When did you get The Call and what was your first published novel?
JAMI: I was waiting on a response from a couple different editors who had fulls of “Who’s Been Sleeping in My Bed?” Being the impatient sort, I decided to submit to Siren Publishing just to have another option. Siren offered a contract within twenty-four hours. My first three books are published with Siren, along with five other books under a different pen name. My latest release is with Loose Id.
GRACIE: What do you know now about writing and the publishing industry that you wish you’d known before you started?
JAMI: I wish I had submitted sooner to small electronic presses rather than spending close to five years submitting to New York agents and editors. I believe I could’ve gotten into the digital world on the ground floor and built my reader base back before the digital market exploded. I would advise all aspiring authors to seriously consider the digital route with small presses. I’m not a big fan of self-publishing for new authors, as I think they need to build a name and learn the business before they self-publish.
GRACIE: Please, give us a little story behind the story and what inspired your Siren-Bookstrand series, Evergreen Dynasty.
JAMI: The Dance (Book 1) was originally a fan fiction piece I did. I completely re-wrote it and shortened it for publication. I never intended for it to be a series. When I wrote Who’s Been Sleeping in My Bed? I ended up using a plotline and some of the characters from The Dance, which resulted in a series. Who’s was actually published before The Dance. The Reynolds family (except for The Dance) was based on some of the original timber baron families in Seattle.
GRACIE: In The Dance and Who’s Been Sleeping in My Bed both Mariah Baker and Harlee Davis have cute-meets with their intended heroes that involve a fair amount of physicality and humor. What do you find appealing about these types of encounters?
JAMI: I love writing cute meets, and I think they’re fun to read also. The cute meet in Who’s was actually based on something that happened to a friend of mine.
GRACIE: In Fourth and Goal, what facet of Rachel McCormick’s personality do you think the most helps her thrive in a typically male-oriented career?
JAMI: Rachel truly loves the game and wants a career in football because of her love for that game and her determination to succeed.
GRACIE: What is wide receiver Derek Ramsey’s Achilles’ heel and how do you go about stomping it?
JAMI: Derek has lost his self-confidence. He doesn’t believe in himself anymore. Rachel helps him with the physical aspects of his game, improving his timing and his concentration. But even more than that, she believes in him.
GRACIE: What are you finding the most enjoyable about the research that’s going into your latest series, The Seattle Lumberjacks and how do you use that research to lend an air of authenticity to these stories set in the world of pro football?
JAMI: I attended the Seattle Seahawks Football 101 last October, which was held at their headquarters on Lake Washington. It was an incredible experience to see the facility where the players work out and listen to the coaches, players, players’ wives, and Seahawks staff talk about different aspects of pro football. We even did player drills on the practice field. I’m definitely attending again this year. I can’t wait.
GRACIE: Wow, sounds like you had an exciting and fun time researching! So, of all the stories you’ve written so far, which is your favorite and why?
JAMI: Usually, the book I’m working on becomes my favorite book at the time. That being said, Fourth and Goal is pretty much my favorite because it’s been in my head for so many years. Not only did I finally get to see it published, but the reviews on it have been exceptional.
GRACIE: I know this is like asking a mother which is her favorite child, but which of your characters is your favorite and why?
JAMI: Prior to starting Tyler’s story, I would have to say Derek, but I’m enjoying writing about Tyler so much that now I’d say there’s a close tie between the two. Tyler is such a wounded warrior, a sensitive guy covered with tough guy armor. It’s been fun to strip away that armor little by little.
GRACIE: What about your characters makes them unique?
JAMI: I’m an amateur psychologist. I love to know what makes people tick. I’ll watch true crime shows for hours because I fascinated with why people do what they do. I make an effort to dig deep into my characters and give them multi-faceted personalities full of flaws and strengths. I want my characters to stay with a reader long after they’ve finished the book. That’s a talent very few writers have, and I’m working hard to be one of those writers.
GRACIE: What is your favorite aspect of the writing process? Your least favorite?
JAMI: First of all I love writing the beginning and getting to know my characters. Once the first draft is finished, I enjoy adding layers to the story. I don’t like writing the 2nd half of the book because, honestly, I have no idea where I’m going. As a result, I tend to wander and end up changing quite a bit down the road.
GRACIE: Ah, you answered my next question! Are you a pantser or do you outline?
JAMI: The wandering comment above probably gives you a clue. I’m a pantser, or what I prefer to call an instinctual writer. If I try to plot or dissect too much, my story becomes flat and lifeless. I avoid any process which over analyzes the characters and plot. I am trying to work on a one-page synopsis before I write so I don’t wander so much. Plotting is definitely my weakness. Fellow writer and good friend, Adrianne Lee, has helped me with that by encouraging me to use her Conflict Plot Plan. It’s a simple way to plot and make sure you have your motivations and conflict down without getting extremely detailed. You can see a sample here on her website:http://www.adriannelee.com/ALwriting.htm
I also use Microsoft OneNote to organize every book into an electronic notebook. I’m very organized even though I’m not a plotter.
GRACIE: If you weren’t a writer, what other profession would you have chosen to pursue?
JAMI: Since I have a full-time job other than writing that I love, I would have to say that I’m already doing my other profession, which is in IT.
GRACIE: Who are some of your favorite authors and why? Name some of your favorite books and why they’re your favorites.
JAMI: Sandra Brown’s Mirror Image is one of my all-time favorite books. The characters in that book stuck with me forever. In fact, the books I love have that in common. Most writers read the same types of books they love to write so I look for character-centered romances as opposed to plot-centered romances. I love Susan Elizabeth Phillips Chicago Stars series and Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series. I also love Lucy Monroe, Jaci Burton, Rachel Gibson... I could go on and on. I love straight contemporaries with humor and great characters.
GRACIE: What are you working on now and what should readers be looking forward to from you in the future?
JAMI: I’m writing Tyler’s story, the obnoxious quarterback from Fourth and Goal. I’m also working on a small-town romance series that won’t be as erotic as my other books. It’s also based on a true experience that happened to a bartender in a small veterans bar my husband frequents.
GRACIE: Do you have a website and/or how can readers contact you?
JAMI: Lots of ways: http://www.jamidavenport.com is the best way. I also have Facebook, Twitter, and a blog. They are all listed on my website. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
GRACIE: Where and how can readers purchase and/or read samples of your work?
JAMI: Check out my website for my buy links. Most of my books are available at all major distributors.
GRACIE: What advice do you have for beginning writers?
JAMI: Be careful about being sucked into the current self-publishing craze. I think new authors need publishing experience before they self-publish. Go with a small press first and learn the process including promotion, editing, covers, etc., before you try it on your own. Get a few published books under your belt before you self-publish.
GRACIE: Anything else about yourself or your writing you’d like to share with your readers?
JAMI: One more thing for authors, write what you love, not what’s currently the trend. Your readers will be able to tell if your heart is in your writing or not.
GRACIE: Jami, thanks so much for taking time from your busy schedule to share yourself and your work with us at The G-Spot and for giving us a little insight into your writing and the writing process! We’ll let you get back to writing those wonderful books you write! All the best!