Jamie Raintree is an author and a writing business teacher. She is also a mother of two girls, a wife, a businesswoman, a nature-lover, and a wannabe yogi. Her debut novel, PERFECTLY UNDONE, will be released on October 3, 2017 by Graydon House. Subscribe to her newsletter for more writing tips, workshops, and book news. To find out more, visit her website.
I first started writing seriously in 2010, completely oblivious to the fact that a little over a year later, my life would be turned upside down. I was just beginning to feel like I finally knew what I wanted to do with my life--I had completed my first (truly messy) novel, connected with a local writers group, started a blog, and began to build a social media presence. And then I found out I was pregnant with my first daughter.
Thankfully, I was naive about what having a baby would look like or I might have stopped writing then. (In fact, my naivety has served me well in many cases during my writing a publishing journey, and in the pursuit of my goals in general--highly recommended.) Because I didn't know any better, I continued writing throughout my pregnancy and picked it back up again shortly after delivery, thinking I could simply hold the baby in one arm and type with the other. I'm sure my mom still has good laughs about this expectation.
In 2012, there were two new developments in my life: the beginning of what would become my debut novel, and my pregnancy with my second daughter. I was a little less naive by this point. In fact, the stress of balancing motherhood and my passion was really weighing on me. It felt like no matter what I did, I was always failing one or the other--my kids or my commitment to my dream.
In the eight years that have passed since my oldest was just a sparkle in my eye, the struggle has only gotten harder. The further I get into my writing career, the bigger the expectations of me grow. I'm also a passionate parent, and find great fulfillment in nurturing and guiding my daughters. Actually, I'm multi-passionate, so there's weaving in my other pursuits too. In a world where there's an endless supply of to-dos to add to our plates, it can be hard to stay dedicated to what's important.
For me, though, giving something up never felt like a choice. Maybe it's crazy--a lot of times it felt like it--but I simply never considered the option of giving up my dream. Not seriously. No matter how much my kids needed from me (and when I had two kids under two, trust me, they needed a lot), I also realized that I had needs too. It became clear to me very early on in motherhood that in order to the be the best person for not only my daughters, but also myself, I needed to continue to do the things that fulfilled me. And that has always been writing.
One thing my dad has said to me my entire life is, "Don't ask 'if,' ask 'how,'" and whether I realized it or not, that piece of wisdom has guided me in many endeavors in my life. When I had my girls, I knew it would make more sense to put my writing career on the back burner until they started school, when I would have more time. But because I knew I deserved to put myself first sometimes, I asked myself how I could do it instead. And over the years, my girls have become as invested in my writing as me. In fact, my oldest is so proud that she tells everyone she wants to be a writer when she grows up so she can help me write my books. (She melts my heart, I tell you.)
Now, as I take my youngest daughter to her first day of kindergarten, I'm also preparing to launch my debut novel, Perfectly Undone, something I have fantasized about for almost a decade. There have been so many times when I have brainstormed while changing diapers, and snuck in sentences while making dinner. There were times I cried myself to sleep, thinking this dream would never come true. And then times when I sat paralyzed at my computer, wondering what I would do if it actually did. Nothing about chasing a dream while raising young children is easy, but I can say without a doubt that it has been worth it.
"Yes" is such a little word...
Dr. Dylan Michels has worked hard for a perfect life, so when her long-time boyfriend Cooper gets down on one knee, it should be the most perfect moment of all. Then why does she say no?
For too many years, Dylan’s been living for her sister, who never got the chance to grow up. But her attempts to be the perfect daughter, perfect partner, and perfect doctor haven’t been enough to silence the haunting guilt Dylan feels over her sister’s death—and the role no one knows she played in it.
Now Dylan must face her past if she and Cooper stand a chance at a future together. But when Cooper makes a startling confession of his own, can Dylan find the courage to define her own happiness, before her life becomes perfectly undone?
Set among the breezy days of a sultry Portland summer, Perfectly Undone is a deeply moving novel of family secrets, forgiveness and finding yourself in the most surprising of places.
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Where to Buy Perfectly Undone
Kellye Garrett spent 8 years working in Hollywood, including a stint writing for the CBS drama Cold Case. People were always surprised to learn what she did for a living—probably because she seemed way too happy to be brainstorming ways to murder people. A former magazine editor, Kellye holds a B.S. in magazine writing from Florida A&M and an MFA in screenwriting from USC’s famed film school. Having moved back to her native New Jersey, she spends her mornings commuting to Manhattan for her job at a leading media company—while still happily brainstorming ways to commit murder. Her first novel, Hollywood Homicide, was released by Midnight Ink in August 2017. It was a Library Journal Debut of the Month and described as a “winning first novel and series launch” in a starred review by Publishers Weekly.
The Third Act
by Kellye Garrett
"In screenplay speak, the end of Act Two is the main character’s lowest point. In action films, the star’s been captured. In romantic comedies, the couple has had a big fight. In horror movies, all her friends are dead and she’s been stripped down to just a bra and panties." – Dayna Anderson in "Hollywood Homicide (A Detective by Day Mystery)"
I got the idea for Hollywood Homicide while driving down the street. It was about 2010 while I was still living in Los Angeles. I drove past a billboard offering $15,000 for information on a homicide. At the time, I was dead broke and miserable so my first thought was, “I should try to solve that for the reward money.” My second thought was, “That’s the dumbest idea you’ve ever had.”
It turned out to be a great idea for a book though.
My journey to published author has been a long road. I’ve wanted to write a book since I was five-years-old so I clearly took a lot of detours, wrong turns and spent a lot of time stuck—in traffic and in life.
Like any good plotter, I view my divide that journey into three acts.
Act One: The Journalist
Fears of dating myself aside, I came out of undergrad in 2000 ready to take over the world. The economy was good and journalism was still thriving. My plan was simple: work as a magazine editor until I could figure out a good book idea. And I did for almost three years. First, as an editorial assistant at the New York Daily News. Next, as an assistant editor at Vibe magazine, where I covered movies and television. Then an unexpected thing happened. I got bored. Journalism is amazing but it’s a spectator sport. I wanted to be in the game—or should I saw on the racetrack to keep with the car analogy.
So I left my cushy job—even turning down a promotion—to go to film school.
Act Two: The TV Writer
I was lucky enough to get into USC, arguably the top film school in the country. After I graduated, I spent a year as an assistant on a television show that no one remembers then was lucky to get into NBC’s On the Verge program designed to help talented, new writers break into television. It worked. Two years after graduating, I was a staff writer on the CBS show Cold Case. I thought I’d had it made.
Then television writers went on strike and I broke up with my writing partner. The strike only last a few months but our contract wasn’t renewed once the season wrapped. I figured it’d be easy to find another job in television. It wasn’t. At all.
I did some television show developing but it wasn’t nearly enough to make those expensive student loan payments. I was 30, out of work and dead broke. Furthermore, I was completely disillusioned with Hollywood. In true screenplay form, I was at my lowest point and I was desperate to figure out my next step. I decided to finally write that book. And there was some good news that came out of all of this—I finally had that book idea.
Act Three: The Novelist
They say write what you love. I’ve mysteries since the days of Encyclopedia Brown and Nancy Drew. It was a given that I’d write a mystery novel. They also write what you know. At the time, I knew a lot about being a semi-successful, mega-broke black woman disillusioned with Hollywood. So I wrote about a semi-famous, mega-broke black actress disillusioned with Hollywood. When Hollywood Homicide came out earlier this month, many of the reviews highlighted the Hollywood aspect. Publishers Weekly (who gave me a starred review!) said I write “with humor and insight about the Hollywood scene.” And Kirkus Reviews wrote that “Veteran TV writer Garrett uses her Cold Case experience to inform her debut, which sets up more than one charming character and isn’t afraid to go cynical on all things LA.”
It’s funny how things work out. If I didn’t have the requisite end of Act 2 low point, I wouldn’t have had my Hollywood ending.
ACTRESS DAYNA ANDERSON’S DEADLY NEW ROLE: HOMICIDE DETECTIVE
Dayna Anderson doesn’t set out to solve a murder. All the semifamous, mega-broke actress wants is to help her parents keep their house. So after witnessing a deadly hit-and-run, she pursues the fifteen grand reward. But Dayna soon finds herself doing a full-on investigation, wanting more than just money—she wants justice for the victim. She chases down leads at paparazzi hot spots, celeb homes, and movie premieres, loving every second of it—until someone tries to kill her. And there are no second takes in real life.
Multi-Author Blog: https://chicksonthecase.com/
Where to Buy Hollywood Homicide
Jesse lives in Colorado with her husband, daughter, and two fur children. Her short stories have appeared in The Saturday Evening Post and Youth Imagination Magazine, among other publications. She is currently seeking representation for a young adult fantasy novel, the first in a series. Jesse was most recently published in Strange Fictions, a science fiction/fantasy zine. Her short story Melusine will also be republished with FrostFire Worlds this month. When she's not writing or chasing her babies, Jesse enjoys hiking or stalking people with her camera. Find her at jessemaeweiner.com, or connect with her on instagram, facebook or twitter to stay updated on her latest publications.
Funny thing for a writer to say, but we all know it’s true. Self-reflection can be grueling, tiresome work. It means being brave, and being open to change.
So, I avoided it at all costs.
I’d dreamed of becoming an author since I was a child, clutching tight to my copy of A Wrinkle in Time and vowing that one day, I would create something equally magical. Yet by the time I got to college, it was deceptively easy to convince myself that my desire was a silly thing. Unattainable. Impractical.
Life’s trials piled on—the loss of my father, my mother’s first battle with cancer, the pressure of deciding what the hell to do with the rest of my life. I stumbled into teaching, and then academic advising. I dedicated myself to helping teens discover their passions, while in the back of my mind I knew I wasn’t following my own passion.
My students, God bless them, were all bright, lovely, wonderful, intelligent people—even those who were uniquely talented at driving me up the wall. Often, in the course of discussing college and career options, my students would look at me and ask, “What made you want to do this?” As if they couldn’t comprehend why anyone would want to work in a high school. And while I did enjoy working with them—their exuberance for life was infections, the question never failed to make me feel like a hypocrite. I expected these kids to sit down with me and work through all these tough, introspective questions, when I myself had neglected to do so. The irony of the situation was not lost on me.
Don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t a bad student. I wasn’t unhappy with my life, and I didn’t dislike my job. Yet there is a difference between being good at what you do and finding the thing that makes you tick.
Thanks in large part to the inspiration of my students, and of course my husband’s loving, gentle encouragement, I finally started writing.
To be honest, it was rather terrifying at first. I still remember opening up a new document in word, staring at the blank page and that damn blinking cursor while the snide voice in my head said, See? You have nothing to say.
But I knew that wasn’t true. So I gave him the finger and pushed on.
As an English teacher, I walked my freshmen classes through many a creative writing exercise. I stood at the whiteboard and cited scientific studies linking writing in longhand to unleashing creativity, positive thought, and increases in neural activity.
Funny, then, that I sat there with my own pen and paper, thinking some of the same complaints that they’d often lobbed at me.
I don’t know what to write.
What’s the point?
This is so effing hard.
Why am I doing this, again?
Yet every time I shoved those voices aside, I found that my soul felt full, in a way that it hadn’t it a long, long time.
Again, it wasn’t that I didn’t feel complete or happy before. It was that in finding a thing that gave me so much freedom and joy, I was left wondering why the hell I’d laid it aside in the first place.
Self-doubt is crippling. As is fear. And that little, incessant voice who keeps whispering that you’re being selfish, for claiming time for yourself? Yeah, he should be shot.
We all have duties and responsibilities, but we shouldn’t lay aside our aspirations because of them. If becoming a mother has taught me anything, it’s that I cannot be the person my daughter needs me to be, if I am not taking the necessary steps to care for myself. Writing has become one of those steps. And the more I write, the more I realize introspection isn’t so scary, after all.
Read Melusine Here
Sheala Dawn Henke has been telling herself stories with a full cast of imaginary characters running amuck in her head since her early childhood days growing up in her mother’s home daycare. Since then, she has discovered that the laughter and whimsy of childhood make great fodder for story. The movie reels and running dialogue that played through her head since childhood never seemed to accept a final encore, so she decided to start writing them down. Today she surrounds herself with a fountain of youthful energy as a full time elementary teacher. She and her husband, both native Coloradoans, tag team to raise their two adventurous boys in the town of their alma mater, where they attended university at Colorado State in Fort Collins, Colorado. Sheala has spent the last seven years working to complete her debut YA Cli-Fi trilogy, IDEA33-A Regeneration, IDEA33-A Revolution, and the third and final installment, IDEA33-A Resolution due out on Earth Day 2018. She also loves to write poetry, Young Adult Fiction and Middle Grade Fantasy as she continues to commit to the craft each day delighting in sharing her stories with the world.
There are times when moments in our life can transform us as writers, and honestly, for me to pinpoint on the map where this journey began would do the experience little justice. Primarily because along the journey, I’ve discovered that there is no certain call to any one destination when it came to my story as a writer.
I tend to be drawn to things of a symbolic nature, and I recently spent some time in the Outer Banks of North Carolina on a family vacation. We stayed right smack-dab in the heartland of history, near where The Wright Brothers took to the air on their first flight from the site on Kill Devil Hills.
Out there the wind blows like a passive resistance to the staging calm, and it was there that the light finally shined on what kind of writer I am and what kind of writer I could be. Between early morning runs on the boardwalk, dolphin watching ala kayak, and dining on the sweet succulence of tangy barbecue, one of the greatest take-always from my trip came to me while I watched my children fly a kite on our first night on the beach.
For me, writing is like flying a kite...
What I’ve realized over the last seven years is that like kite flying, writing is something of a chance endeavor. Each time I take to the air, there's some level of anticipation for what might be possible, or how high I can go depending on the risks I’m willing to take. The best part is that no matter what happens, I know I still hold the strings.
I love the feeling of control and the slack I might need to get the story up, to send it soaring. I find myself asking, will the conditions be just right? Will the wind cooperate? But more importantly, will this kite fly?
Much in the way the kite flyer learns to read these conditions, we as writers mark our path, and in those moments the words seem to spill out directly from our souls onto the page. These are paths often charted for the very first time. It follows a trajectory we can’t always repeat.
In the same way, I see this flight of words akin to the flight of a kite, with its lofty approach, I see my words as fingerprints on a skyline flightpath that no one else can recreate, and I believe, as writers, we each have a kite of our own. The question is, when are we ready to fly it?
If so, here are a few tips to help you keep to the air:
#1 Go with the Flow:
Much like the variables in which we aim to design our writing routines, a kite bound in flight by certain principles of physics. Flight itself is controlled by three main forces: lift, gravity, and drag, and although our writing process can most certainly, and often does seem to defy gravity, it begins with a common structure that can help us understand and learn to navigate. We don’t always get to control the winds that come, but we do get to decide what goes on the page.
#2 Pick your kite with care:
A larger part of flying a kite is choosing the right one to fly. This can apply to our writing endeavors as well. The genius begins in the choosing. Is it the right voice for me? Does the genre fit my storytelling lens and level of experience? Is the work an authentic part of myself that I’m able and willing to share with the world? And just like kites, as writers, we often fall flat on our noses too!
#3 Pay mind to the Lift Off- I like to think big picture on a grand scale. We plan, we plot, we dodge, we weave. With some projects, we might be more inclined to map out entire wind-scapes, and scout out the jet stream. Other times we enjoy the sharper edges, the cuts, the unexpected twists and turns in a spectacle of flying at our own risk, being drawn to the challenge? As an early stage writer, I often started with a short lead, a line within my comfort zone. A place to set my stride. Then, as I watched more seasoned flyers, streamers out, as they fielded the air in a more instinctual dance, I began to note the difference in their flight patterns. I aimed to fly side by side with them, taking notes from these wordsmith masters.
In any case, over the course of these past seven years, any way I flew it, I’ve learned to work through the snags and pay mind to the knots that might bar my flight. I’ll stay committed to learning, evolving as a writer. And as the shape of my design changes, I can be assured that each time I take to the page, I’ll fly higher than I ever imagined was possible.
“Kites rise highest against the wind, not with it.” ~Winston Churchill
Here you can read an explanation of the Bernoulli Principle by Tal Streeter. For the “path of least resistance” taken by a kite in flight, see the excerpt from Measuring the Sky, Streeter’s work in progress.
IDEA33- A Regeneration
Heli Clame doesn't know it yet, but he stands in the wake of a critical change. Coming of age himself during a time of enhanced technology and decades lost to ecological devastation, he arrives on the grounds of IDEA33 to join two others, Terra Sial and Dous Cistern. Unaware that they all have special and undeveloped powers to offset a prophecy fortelling the end of time, they soon learn their unique origins and the purpose for why they were created. The balance of all life on earth rests on the strength of their unity. Only then will they have the power to initiate a Regeneration.
Her books are available on Amazon & on her website www.sdhenke.weebly.com & you can find Sheala Henke on; twitter (@HenkeSheala, facebook (AuthorSDHenke) & email firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to Buy IDEA33- A Regeneration
I'm generally pulled in a million different directions and I wouldn't trade it for the world. Here's a glimpse of my life - hope you enjoy it! And if there's a big lapse between posts, well, that's the way life goes in Amy's world.
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