Jaime Reed: Author Interview and Fabulous Giveaway

Author Jaime Reed is a member of a group of 2012 debut authors with me called the Apocalypsies. When I realized she was promoting her trilogy The Cambion Chronicles, I checked out her website and her books and was impressed by this smart woman who fell into writing after looking back at the notebooks she kept in high school. Since my debut novel evolved from my middle school notes, I understood completely how looking back helped move Jaime forward. I’m so glad that Jaime agreed to be interviewed here today. And she’s GIVING AWAY the first two books of her YA paranormal trilogy here too! Details and book synopses follow the interview. Keep reading for Jaime’s informative and entertaining answers to the interview questions.

I’ve visited your website and blog and it seems like you are really in touch with your readers: teens. So if you could give your middle school or high school self one piece of advice, what would it be? Stop worrying what everyone thinks about you. You’ll barely see any of these kids again in six years anyway. It’s not worth stressing out over. Seriously.  Just do you.

What is your favorite way to flaunt your brain power? I have a tendency to use big words and using crazy analogies. My favorite thing is to sum up a friend’s problem in 10 words or less. No matter how heavy the drama or how long they took to explain it, I can outline and diagnose the matter in less than 30 seconds. Unfortunately I can’t use this super power for myself.  But for the most part I just use sarcasm. It’s never failed me before. So you can say that I’m more of a smart ass than I am smart.

Summing things up is an excellent skill. It must help you write synopses! Now that we know how you flaunt, can you tell me what social norms you are fond of flouting? Racial stereotypes are my main rule breaker. I don’t really like labels and preconceived notions about people and I certainly don’t act like the typical “black chick” and I make a point not to perpetuate that stereotype.   I tend to write about characters that break outside of what is considered normal. Generally, I don’t want to do what everyone else is doing, or what is expected of me.

I love that answer. I hate stereotypes too. I read that you have interests in movies, music and art. How do you use your talents in these areas to create fiction? I love movies. I dreamt of becoming a movie director or a screen writer when I graduated from College. Since that never happened, I went with my second love, which was writing. I think fiction writing is as close as I’m going to get and I’m perfectly cool with that. I do have a habit of using movie references and camera jargon in my stories. It gives a bit of cinematic flare as far as visualization for the reader.

And I’ll bet your ability to visualize helps keep your writing vibrant too! What kind of research went into developing the paranormal element for The Cambion Chronicles? How can I describe it? It was like those Russian stacking dolls where one doll is inside of another and it gets smaller and smaller. It was kinda like that- layers of information, one discovery then another then another.  I wanted to find a monster that wasn’t so popular, but I also loved vampires as a kid. So I studied the origin of vampires and found a whole world of lure that hasn’t been explored, creatures who absorb human energy, hybrids, fallen angels, etc.  That’s when I found Cambions. The lure of the Cambion is obscure and I did as much research as I could. The rest was creative license, which is a dream when you want to create a new cannon.

So research really did bring you to the Cambions. Kudos to you for your skills!

I read that you have a playlist for every occasion in life. I thought it’d be fun to give you a list of occasions and you can share the appropriate songs for them. If you’re game, give it a shot.(Just answer the ones you like. If you think of other fun/funny occasions, add them to the list!)

  • You dumped him: Rumor Has It- Adele
  • He dumped you: I Bust the Window Out Your Car – Jazmine Sullivan
  • Irritating teacher:  Break stuff – Limp Bizkit
  • Zombie attack: Fire starter- Prodigy
  • Forgot homework:  Because I Got High – Afroman
  • Getting ready for prom: Music Sounds Better With You- Daft Punk
  • BFF is back from Europe: Magic – Ladyhawk
  • Tripped and fell in front of school: The Benny Hill theme song
  • Wearing your favorite jeans: I Know What Boys Like – The Waitresses

Great list Jaime! I have to laugh at that last one. I remember that song so well… 

 Can you tell us about a well-known fictitious chick you admire and why you admire her?  I don’t really have one, but if I had to choose I would say Hermione Granger from Harry Potter. She’s the smartest one out of the trio and she always comes prepared. I would take brains over brawn any day. It’s an invaluable trait.

I think another nerdy chick or two picked Hermione. What a great character. What’s something you like to do that might be considered a tiny bit nerdy, but is actually really fun? I think not having much of a social life is nerdy enough. Reading and talking movie trivia with other film nerds could qualify too. I simply kill at six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. I also have an obsession with British TV shows.

All of that sounds great to me, proof that I’m nerdy? Do you ever give nerdy traits to any of your characters? I do write smart characters and I’m pleased to announce that being smart is becoming popular these days. The love interest in the Cambion Chronicles, Caleb, is an undercover nerd, with his medieval weapon collection and obsession with music. Sam, the lead character likes to read Shakespeare and talks in Elizabethan speak at random. So yeah, there’s a nerd factor there, but it also makes for interesting character development too.

Those do sound like really interesting characters! How has brain power helped get you through the tough times in life, like when you were trying to decide which career path to follow? It was more of a gut thing than a brain thing. I had to do something that I really enjoyed and would do for free if it came to that. Writing happened to be the first thing that came to mind. Looking back, it didn’t seem the most logical direction, and the odds of success were against me. I actually had to fight my brain to do what I felt was right for me.

It really is hard for logical people to give in to gut instincts sometimes. I know you have tons of readers who are glad you let your gut take over.

I’m so glad Jaime joined us today. To find out more about her and her books, visit her cool WEBSITE, find her on GOODREADS, join  her FACEBOOK page, and follow her on TWITTER .  

How to win the first TWO BOOKS in Jaime Reed’s THE CAMBION CHRONICLES. Living Violet and Burning Emerald!

It is super easy to enter! 

1. Leave a comment below to enter.

2. For extra entries, spread the news about this giveaway on Facebook or Twitter. Add a (+1) beside your comment each time you spread the news.

That’s it! The last day to enter will be Tuesday, July 17. A winner will be picked using Random.org on Wednesday, July 18. 

Samara Marshall is determined to make the summer before her senior year the best ever. Her plan: enjoy downtime with friends and work to save up cash for her dream car. Summer romance is not on her to-do list, but uncovering the truth about her flirtatious co-worker, Caleb Baker, is. From the peculiar glow to his eyes to the unfortunate events that befall the girls who pine after him, Samara is the only one to sense danger behind his smile. But Caleb’s secrets are drawing Samara into a world where the laws of attraction are a means of survival. And as a sinister power closes in on those she loves, Samara must take a risk that will change her life forever. . .or consume it.

Coping with loss, keeping secrets from friends, and juggling
classes has kept Sam Marshall busy in her senior year. She
finds comfort in her unlikely companion, Caleb, as their
connection grows to where one cannot survive without the other.
But Sam’s biggest problem is a powerful enemy that wants
her for himself and to destroy Caleb and his family.
Determined to keep Caleb safe, Sam fights a battle where
she is both the enemy and the prize, but victory will come
at a deadly price.

Kristy Dempsey: Author, Librarian, Surfer Chick

 When I heard the title of Kristy’s newly released picture book — Surfer Chick — I couldn’t wait to interview her for Nerdy Chicks Rule!  What’s not to like about a book featuring a cute chick, especially one brave enough to hit the waves? And there’s a lot to like about this book’s author, as well. I had a great time having lunch with Kristy a few years ago when I lived in Greenville SC, which serves as Kristy’s home base in the United States when she is not living in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.  In Brazil, Kristy writes, enjoys time with her family, and serves as librarian for Escola Americana de Belo Horizonte, where she can surround herself with books. If you catch her at just the right time and place, you might find her experimenting with a surfboard, too. Thanks for joining us today Kristy!

I’ve started asking this question of everyone, and you may be able to give a great answer since you currently work with so many children, but if you could give your middle school or high school self one piece of advice, what would it be? 

Well, let me preface my answer by saying that no amount of money would make me go back to middle school or high school. I treasure the lasting friendships that came out of those years, but I neither knew myself well enough nor had the confidence to be the person I really should have been. I touched on the true aspects of myself with vocal performance and writing, but I was too busy trying to muster the energy to be social to discover my own strengths. I don’t have any true regrets, but if I could give myself one piece of advice it would be to take some quiet time every day to contemplate my own heart and the natural world around me. I think it would have freed me and fueled my writing.

That is awesome advice. Now that you do take time to contemplate, do you have a favorite way to flaunt your brain power?

I am addicted to matching the right book to the right person. I work as a librarian at a Preschool-12th grade school and I love being able to put the right book – you know the one that will addict them to reading– in the hands of my students. It is both brain power and relational power at work.

I love that! I wish every librarian felt that way! Are there any social norms that you are fond of flouting?

I hardly ever flout or flaunt. And if I did, it wouldn’t likely be in public.

Hahaha. I think I hear a HEAR HEAR from the masses of introverted writers out there! You wrote Surfer Chick in rhyme that Kirkus praises for having a “raplike beat.” Can you tell us how rhyme and rhythm help this story?

In the case of SURFER CHICK, I think the rhyme keeps the story moving and keeps the reader focused on the action. Rhyme is a tricky animal, because it can often seem trite and unnecessary. I will admit that was one of the dangers I felt in writing this book in rhyme. But in the end, the surfer language and the chicken humor both fit in with the rhyme and worked to put the focus on the story. Believe me when I say, that doesn’t always happen. (And just to prove it, Surfer Chick was revised 16 times!)

I always tell aspiring authors that three or four revisions isn’t many! For you, what is the best thing about being an author?

Hmm . . . making the story end the way I want it to? I do feel that life is a story for which we can’t always choose the details, the conflicts or the resolutions. Oh, how I wish we could. So, in a way, I think I write to answer my own questions about life and to figure out how I would write my own story if I could, even with all the pain and doubt that accompany it. My favorite line in SURFER CHICK is, “Chick scoped out the water/to find the best wave./It swelled up behind her . . . /Chick chose to be brave.” I love so much that Chick chooses to be brave. Being brave when we’re facing a crisis is not a reaction. It’s a choice. Taking a deep breath sometimes helps.

I also love that Surfer Chick models bravery so well. Can you share a favorite song, quote, or movie that speaks to your inner nerdiness?

I have no idea if this will speak to anyone else’s nerdiness but mine, but I love the lyrics to the song “The Show” by the artist Lenka, part of which read:

I’m just a little bit caught in the middle

Life is a maze and love is a riddle

I don’t know where to go I can’t do it alone I’ve tried

And I don’t know why

I’m just a little girl lost in the moment

I’m so scared but I don’t show it

I can’t figure it out

It’s bringing me down I know

I’ve got to let it go

And just enjoy the show

Thanks for sharing these lyrics! What’s something you like to do that might be considered a little bit nerdy, but is actually really fun?

I do the ordering of books (both textbooks and literature) for my school, which means I type a lot of ISBN numbers. This is so much more fun than it sounds, especially when you start to recognize which ISBNs belong to which publishers! And in the end it all results in new books for students, which is REALLY fun.

Why does this not sound fun to me? Maybe I’m not as nerdy as I think I am! 🙂 Do you have a favorite hobby? Details please!

I dabble in so many things. I enjoy making greeting cards using scrapbook paper. I like to draw feathers in pencil. I like to paint eggs (colorful bird eggs) in watercolor on paper. I like to hand paint glass and then cut it into tiles to be used in mosaics. I like to read. I like to exercise. (Cue Julie Andrews singing, “These are a few of my favorite things . . .)

It’s great that you have so many interests. I’m not surprised! And I’m wishing I had an image of your bird eggs to scan in right now. Maybe we can add some later. Please? Thanks again for joining us Kristy. For those of you who would like to know what Kristy is up to, you can find her on Twitter at @kristydempsey or @realsurferchick. Now take a moment to watch the adorable Surfer Chick trailer!

 

Jo Watson Hackl: Stellar Leader

I met Jo Watson Hackl when I was living in Greenville SC, but, ironically, I didn’t really get to know her until I moved away.  She is super smart, an attribute that she fully employs in her career as a corporate and securities attorney with Wyche law firm in Greenville, South Carolina. www.wyche.com. Jo has served as lead counsel on public registrations of stocks and debt securities that total over a billion dollars. Jo currently serves as Chair of the Board of the Community Foundation of Greenville and President of the Emrys Foundation and is immediate past Chair of the Board of Directors of the Greenville Area Development Corporation. She is past President of the Greenville County Bar Association and past President of the Greenville Professional Women’s Forum. Jo is listed in Best Lawyers in America®, a leading legal referral guide, and her pro bono work has been featured in American Barrister magazine. Jo is a Liberty Fellow and serves as Co-Chair of the Liberty Fellowship Economic Development Forum.  Jo received her Juris Doctorate degree from Yale University Law School, where she received the Israel Peres Award for best student contribution to The Yale Law Journal. Jo received her Bachelor of Arts from Millsaps College with high honors. Jo is a recipient of the Richard Riley Pro Bono Award and the Peace Center for the Performing Arts Philanthropist of the Year award. 

Jo is married to Robert Hackl, chef and co-owner of Augusta Grill and the couple has three children. In their free time, Jo and her family raise fruits, vegetables, flowers and many, many weeds. Jo also takes as many black and white photographs of her family as they will tolerate and writes every day. You’ll see more about her writing later in this post. Now for the questions!

Jo, it’s clear that you have brain-power a-plenty! What is your favorite way to flaunt it? Whether it is the intricate details of economic development strategy (in my legal and community work) or the best way to start a fire if you’re out in the woods without a match (in my writing), I enjoy challenging myself to find out what makes thing tick.

What aspects of your career are most stimulating to your brain?I love working with brilliant, talented people and learning new things every day.  I particularly enjoy learning how businesses work, the goals of the management team, and how the team works together to create and sustain their corporate culture. Helping businesses achieve their goals is satisfying and my colleagues are smart, kind and interesting.

How what is the attitude toward brainy women in the legal profession?Attitudes have changed. When I first started my career, there were few women lawyers in our community and clients often assumed I must be a secretary or paralegal. Now women are very well-represented in the profession. My law firm has a culture of supporting and developing women and has established a “Women of Wyche” group whose members help champion and support each other.

What is one of your favorite achievements that you can credit to being a nerdy chick? I grew up in rural Mississippi in one of the poorest counties in the state. Along with support from my family, I credit my nerdiness for getting me into Yale Law School. Once at Yale Law School my nerdiness helped me do well there and inspired me to take risks.   At that time students traditionally wrote articles analyzing cases and legal trends in order to try to earn a coveted spot on The Yale Law Journal staff.  I teamed up with my roommate to undertake a different kind of venture- we conducted an empirical study to determine whether state anti-takeover statutes then in effect actually did what they were supposed to do- maximize shareholder wealth. We concluded that they did not. Not only did we both earn a spot on The Yale Law Journal staff, but we also were awarded the Israel H. Peres prize for the best student contribution to the journal that year.

 That’s awesome! So looking back, if you could give your middle school or high school self one piece of advice, what would it be? Be comfortable being nerdy!   You’ll have more fun and you’ll help other people connect with their inner nerd.

What’s cool about being nerdy? Being curious. You can learn something from everyone you meet if you just ask the right questions. Whether it is about how their business works, how to tell the temperature from a  rhododendron leaf, or how to start a fire with only a plastic bag and some water, learning something new makes your day more interesting.

True! Tell us about a well-known fictitious chick you admire and why you admire her. My favorite character is Claudia Kincaid in From the Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. She and her brother ran away to hide out in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and ended up solving a mystery involving a Michelangelo sculpture. I love how Claudia stepped outside her comfort zone and let her sense of her curiosity take her on an adventure.

I love thinking of curiosity as an asset. Can you share a favorite song, quote, or movie that speaks to your inner nerdiness? O’Brother Where Art Thou?- a movie based on Homer’s Odyssey and set in the Depression-era South. This combination is absolutely inspired!

That is a great movie. What’s something you like to do that might be considered a tad bit nerdy, but is actually really fun? Writing- it is the perfect combination of the wildly creative and the analytical processes- and I think I’ve finally figured out how to give myself permission to write a really bad (but creative) first draft and then go back and revise the manuscript into shape.

I also love to go to art shows and learn not only about the physical process of creating a piece but also about the artist’s mental process behind each decision- medium, subject matter, etc. –  in the piece and what he or she hopes to communicate to the viewer.

Do you have a favorite hobby? Details please! Writing, although it is much more than a hobby   I have completed my first novel, an outdoor adventure meets art mystery story set in a Mississippi ghost town, and am at work on my second involving a fishing prodigy, her Johnny-Cash obsessed older sister, a catfish wrestler, a funeral director and a floating gospel choir. I am represented by the wonderful Tracey Adams of Adams Literary.  The story on which I am working now is set along the banks of the Tombigbee River, near where I grew up. As part of the research, my father and I traveled 226miles down that river. I took loads of notes and pictures and went through two bottles of bug spray.  We encountered blinding rain and lots of alligators and our boat almost got sucked over a dam.  I’ll go through just about anything for a great story and to make sure I get my facts right!

Thanks so much Jo for joining us today.  If you want to hear more from Jo, you can! She is also a regular columnist on writing topics for the Pen & Palette, published by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Carolinas chapter. You can see some of her columns HERE.  An active member of SCBWI, Jo retired from being SCBWI Caroloinas ARA last year to be able to spend more time on her writing.