Well, hey, look who's back!
Nice to see you again.
Now I'm talking to Jamie Dalton.
Jamie is an author of YA fantasy. Growing up in Oregon and Idaho she fell in love with the magic of the mystery of the forests and history. After moving to North Carolina with her husband, her sass took on a life of its own and sassy magical fantasy stories began to be written. She fell in love with the publishing world and became a book cover designer as well as an author which she does during the night while her toddler sleeps. After all, it's called the witching hour for a reason.
Star Trek or Star Wars? Star Trek but starting with Voyager. I struggle with the older ones.
DCU or MCU? MCU
Firefly – gone too soon or overrated? Originally I didn’t care for it. Then I watched the movie and rewatched the series and now I’m basically obsessed.
Reboots – a great idea or a lack of creativity? It really depends on how it’s done. I consider all reboots and books turned TV show or movie to basically be fan fiction. IT helps me not be disappointed if it isn’t exact
A book you’re looking forward to releasing (by someone else)? lol so many! Anything by Frost Kay, Casey L Bond, CN Crawford…
A book that pleasantly surprised you? When Wishes Bleed by Casey L Bond. I hadn’t read a book for almost 10 years and was feeling really burned out and depressed. I stumbled on the book and decided to give it a go. It was exactly what I needed and if it wasn’t for that book I wouldn’t be a published author today.
Coffee, tea, or cacao? Give me all of the warm and cozy drinks! Lately, I’ve been on a white chocolate lavender latte kick since it is the favorite drink of my main character in the cozy fantasy I am writing.
Favorite hangover recovery recipe? Oh man I honestly forgot all of mine. My liver decided I was done drinking long ago.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
The first glimmer I ever had that I may want to write as more than a hobby was in high school. I was supposed to write a short story about a very traumatic experience I had. I had plenty of difficulties that I could have written about, but I really didn't want to open up about them. At the time I was dealing with my mom having just collapsed from a brain tumor and my mind was in a very dark place. Instead, I made up a story about being in a relationship and losing my spouse and child. Flashbacks of how we met, fell in love and how we got together. I remember being pulled aside and sent to the school counselor because it was vivid enough they thought it had actually happened. At the time I didn't have any option other than trying to go trad and I don't have the patience for that so instead I kept moving on. 15 years later with a newborn that took 10 years to be blessed with I decided to dig out my old stories I had started writing and gut them. Turning them into one world that had what I really wanted to share with the world.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
Sort of everywhere. Songs, pinterest posts, memes, tik toks, DND (even though sadly I’ve never played it, TV and movies. I tell to pull ideas from wherever I am currently engaging. How I view the world has changed a lot since I started writing. I notice pacing and something that I see will spark a completely new and seemingly random idea.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I’m in the process of figuring that out. Until recently I wrote only at night but was getting so little sleep that my health started tanking. I’ve been working on doing more writing during the day but am still struggling with that work/life balance to make it work.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I’m a mood writer. Initially that meant that I only wrote when I was in the mood, but I learned that I never finished books if I did that. Instead I learned that I needed to work on setting the right mood for what needed to be written that day. Food, drinks, music, setting, lighting… I mess with all of that when I am sitting down to write for the day.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
Honestly a little bit of everywhere.
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
The first time I fully completed a book I was 30. I had started many but hadn’t developed the skills I needed to actually sit down and finish a book.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Honestly right now I have a toddler, take care of my disabled mother and uncle as well as take care of my own family. For all of my extended family near me I am also their medical person so I end up spending most of my non writing time helping others. I also spend a good chunk of time working on Operation Author. What started as me partnering with a formatter and editor (I’ve done cover design for 3 years) banding together to help 1 indie author publish their book for free turned into a lot of volunteers and us helping 22 authors publish their books for free.
Is there a trope you find yourself going back to in multiple works? Or one you avoid? I keep trying to write enemies to lovers and completely failing. Instead, I end up writing teddy bear guys who are rough around the edges. I do avoid most of the darker tropes and triggers. Rape, incest, death of children or animals… that sort of thing. I don’t handle darker things very well. Currently I’m actually writing a cozy fantasy along side a dark dragon shifter PNR that I am coauthoring so balance out my mindset because I don’t handle staying too dark for too long.
What does your family think of your writing? They’ve been incredibly supportive. Still think that it’s a pipe dream and that nothing will come of it, but already I consider myself successful. Am I making massive amounts of money off of it? No, but most months I can pay the rent and that’s good enough for me for now.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books? That when I read, I skim over descriptions. I know, you asked about my writing, but this habit has rolled over into my writing as well. Because I don’t read entire paragraphs of description and skip most of it in most books I have to intentionally go back and add that. I’m not an over writer, I usually do 50,000 word books because I stay faster paced and am light on description. Initially that really got me down. I had a few ARC readers of my first book tell me they hated it because they didn’t know enough details. The 100 others who messaged me telling me that they loved that it wasn’t bogged down in description and that my books are short enough they can binge them made me realize that that is my target audience. I still work hard to add descriptions, but don’t do it individually. I add it into dialogue descriptors or as actions and sometimes my readers completely miss it.
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite? I’ve written 2 short stories and 4 books so far. Goddess of the Broken is my favorite one so far but my cozy fantasy is working it’s way up to being among my favorites as well. Both are sassy and fun reads.
Do you have any suggestions to help someone become a better writer? If so, what are they?
My biggest piece of advice is to remember that not everyone is your target audience. There is a very small percentage of people who are actually your exact target audience for that book and you have to catch them in the right mood. You push for that group and when you get bad reviews take it that they aren’t your target audience and move on. They aren’t the ones who will be back later to grab your next book.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say? Quite a bit actually. I’m active on social media and I hear a lot of reviews and comments on posts about what books are their favorites and what they really want next.
Do you like to create books for adults? I do. I have a couple of kids books written that I may publish someday but I love publishing for adults. It lets me connect in a different way and more long term.
What do you think makes a good story? I think having all of your characters have some sort of growth and arc as well as your world makes a great story. When parts of your world are stagnant it is difficult to make the world feel real. Readers want to connect with something that feels real but lets them escape
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
A mom, a doctor, an artist, a writer, a mechanic, an engineer, a cook… lol basically everything.
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on? None actually. I would love to travel more for my writing but haven’t had the opportunity yet. Finances and such.
What is the first book that made you cry? Honestly I don’t remember.
What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry? Honestly there’s so many. Pirating is a big one. Using other people’s art that you haven’t purchased with commercial rights to market your book. Same with what is used for covers.
Does writing energize or exhaust you? Honestly it depends on what I am writing
What are common traps for aspiring writers? Thinking there is such a thing as a perfect book. There’s not. There’s only the perfect book for your target audience and again… only if they are in the right mood.
Does a big ego help or hurt writers? I think it helps for marketing but hurts for growth in your writing
What is your writing Kryptonite? Honestly, the other things I need to do. It’s hard to view it as a job sometimes and not let other things I need to do in life take over that time slot.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym? I have! Not to hide my identity though. Just to keep my different genres apart. Fantasy I write under my own name and my spicy PNR is under JD Magentra
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?A good mix of both. With my experience as a cover designer before I started publishing I learned that you need to be unique but marketable to make money in publishing
Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly? They could, but some genres would be easier than others.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer? Honestly I have a very large network of author friends. Some from my cover design who I learned a lot about marketing and publishing from before I started publishing. Others are ones I met later who support me with everything I work on.
Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you building a body of work with connections between each book? It depends on the series. I always make my series have something that arcs through all of the books but that changes according to the series just how big of an element it is. My sword and sorcery series, the Banneret series, has the same main character for all of the books and it’s definitely a continued story. My retelling series is a different couple and different retelling for each book, but with a major plot line and a few characters that show up in every single book. Goddess of the Broken is a duology and has each book for a different couple but with one single story arc for the world.
Who shot first, Han or Greebo? Depends on what version you watched. Before it was remastered or after.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be? Have fun with it and don’t stress about writing a perfect book. You will work the magic out of your writing.
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing? lol I wasted so much money on trying to find an editor that was what I needed. Originally I didn’t know how important it was to have an editor that was both good and who understood your voice and your target audience. I went through 3 editors on my first book. A very expensive mistake in multiple ways.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer? My covers. I save up to get to market covers that are also every green and it’s been completely worth it. I can use the art itself for facebook ads, on Amazon only our actual cover is seen in your ads from them… it’s really your #1 marketing tool.
What authors did you dislike at first but grew into? Stephen King. I don’t do scary so thriller/horror is not something I enjoy. His fantasy stuff though is great!
What did you do with your first advance? Put it right back into my marketing and my next book.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power? I remember watching my parents argue when I was very young. I knew how it made me feel but I also noticed how the tone of voice and words made each other feel. I started to pay attention to it with everyone around me and for the longest time people thought I was shy. I wasn’t. I was just watching and learning how people engaged with each other.
What are the most important magazines for writers to subscribe to? I’m actually not subscribed to any
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel? So it’s not entirely underappreciated. She has a strong following but it’s like a cult following where most people have never heard of her. Kristin Britain’s Green Rider series is sooo good. My favorite book is actually her least popular, Mirror Site.
How do you balance making demands on the reader with taking care of the reader? I’m a take it or leave it author. Even when it comes to asking for ARC readers to leave reviews, I don’t stress it too much. I would rather focus on building a readership than on if they actually left a review. I do know that many authors worry about getting an audience that expects stuff cheap and/or free from them and if my entire income was from this I would be more worried about it. Christmas even and Christmas day I make all of my books that I own the copyright to free so people can grab the next book/books in the series. I figure if someone is willing to wait for those two days every year to grab my books for free they wouldn’t have spent a few dollars on it anyways but may leave me reviews. Something that becomes more and more difficult to do on books after the first one.
Do you write novels, novellas, short stories, episodic fiction, poems, screenplays, or something else? What is your preferred format? Mostly shorter novels. My sweet spot is around 50,000 words. I had such bad imposter syndrome for the longest time because of it. I write fantasy and everyone says you need much longer books. After publishing I realized that there’s a huge audience out there who struggle with long fantasy books and who grabbed mine because they were shorter, but still long enough to really dig into the world.
Are you traditionally or self published? Or both? Do you feel there are advantages to one over the other? Self published. I think both are great options. I’m not against maybe one day doing something trad, but honestly I would have to have them offering something I couldn’t already do myself. Something above and beyond. Goddess of the Broken I turned down a trad deal because they couldn’t offer more.
What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters, if anything? I don’t base my characters off of real people so nothing really
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? I have 4 books that I am working on. Two are the final books in the series. One is a light and sassy cozy fantasy that I am writing to counter a dark dragon shifter PNR that I am coauthoring with a friend.
What is the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything? I know what you really want but I have to say the correct answer is actually a soft bed with uninterrupted time to sleep.
What does literary success look like to you? Financially, being able to pay all of my bills from this. Realistically, having a fandom of readers that want my next book.
What’s the best way to market your books? I’m a wide spread marketer. It usually takes someone 7 times of seeing something in the right mood before they grab it so I like to use multiple ways of marketing to get it in front of them in different ways. I do facebook ads, amazon ads and mostly tik tok.
What do you have coming next?
Goddess of the Broken released November 19, 2022 and Throne of Slumber released December 13, 2022. All of the books that I am writing though I put up on Kindle Vella as I write it so my readers can follow along and participate.