Growing up with a fascination for space and things that fly, Jamie turned that love into a career as an Aerospace Engineer. Combining her natural enthusiasm for Science Fiction and her love of reading, she now spends a lot of her time writing Middle Grade and Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy.
Jamie lives in St. Louis, Missouri with her husband, Andrew, her son, and their dog Rogue (after the X-Men, not Star Wars, although she loves both). When she isn’t being a Rocket Scientist by day and a writer by night, she can be found catching up on the latest sci-fi TV, books, and movies and spending time on Twitter (maybe a little too much time :-P). And no, the rocket science jokes never get old!
Through Snowy Wings Publishing, Jamie is the author of Tracker220 (October 2020). She also has two female in STEM short stories published in the Brave New Girls anthologies and two engineering-centered nonfiction pieces that published in Writer’s Digest’s Putting the Science in Fiction.
Tell us a little about yourself
I’m an aerospace engineer by day and a writer by night. I write MG and YA sci fi and fantasy. In fact, I love all things sci fi and fantasy (movies, TV, books) and love to leverage my engineering background in my writing. I’m a huge nerd and love to go to comic cons and dress up and really enjoy fandom. I’m married, have a toddler and a redbone coonhound mutt that all keep me very busy (mostly the toddler though).
Why Do you write?
I actually hated writing as a kid. They used to send home story starters in grade school and I’d sit at the table and cry cause I thought my ideas were dumb. I went through phases of reading a lot and not reading at all growing up because I struggled to find what I liked to read and lacked the vocabulary and reading comprehension to step into the adult SFF section of the bookstore (which is why I think I gravitate to YA and MG now). In high school, I took a science fiction English class. They assigned Enders Game as the novel, and it was the first time I enjoyed the book and wanted to read ahead of the assignments.
From there, I went out and found all the other books in the series and devoured those as well. Then when I was in college, my Mom and Sister dragged me to the Harry Potter movie. I wasn’t sure what the big deal was about a boy wizard. But after the movie, I went out and found the books and raced through the ones that were out and found my way to fandom. From there, I discovered an entire world of people recommending amazing books. I found many, many more YA & MG books I wanted to read, including The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series. Those books got me thinking about the meanings behind names and words, and started me playing with plot ideas. And while I was experimenting with that story, I got hit with an idea that wouldn’t let go and demanded to be written, and from that point on I’ve been hooked on writing ever since.
What genre do you write and why did you pick this genre?
I talked about this a bit above, but I write MG and YA sci fi and fantasy. I think this is for several reasons. One, I love the genre. It’s so exciting to me and the possibilities are endless. Two, I struggled to find books I enjoyed as a kid, and if there had been more MG and YA genre fiction like sci-fi and fantasy, I likely would have discovered my love of reading a lot earlier on. Three, it pairs well with my engineering background and I can play off what I know and ask them what if questions and explore really cool scenarios.
Tell us about your book
Tracker220 is about a world where everyone has tracking chips in their brains. People can access knowledge and talk to anyone in the blink of an eye (literally), but the authorities monitor everywhere they go, everyone they talk to, and everything they look up. A bit like our smartphones, but directly downloaded to the brain and available in a person’s line of site with a lot more restrictions. The story begins when 16-year-old Kaya Weiss’s tracker glitches and the things the authorities do to her because her tracker doesn’t fit within the guidelines of society. Kaya goes on this journey to understand the technology that has been forced upon her and how it has benefits but how it also conflicts with her privacy and her observance of her Jewish faith. On her journey to answer the many questions she starts to have, she has to decide if she wants to spend her life being poked and prodded by the authorities to fix her tracker but maintain all the benefits or if she wants to explore her privacy and Jewish identity but abandon the only tech, she’s ever known.
How much time do you dedicate to your author career?
This is a tricky question. Prekids (and covid) it was almost without fail, tag up with local writer buddies one night a week and also write Saturday and Sunday afternoons. With a toddler now, it’s sometimes during naptime, but I really miss my in person writing sessions because those were helpful for brainstorming and working through plot bunnies. Then it’s squeaking in some marketing and networking in spare moments here and there. Stealing moments wherever I can between the full-time day job and my home life responsibilities.
How long on average does it take you to write your books?
I am a SUPER slow drafter. I edit as I go, because when I sit down to write, I reread my previous writing sessions to get me back into the story. So writing a first draft can take me a little over a year. That said, a lot of the major issues are usually worked out by the time I finish the draft because I’ve been editing as I go. The editing usually goes a lot faster. I can edit a complete manuscript in a few weeks to a couple of months if I get into a good groove.
What is the best money you have ever spent on your author career?
Hands down on my editing team and my cover artist. As an indie pubbed author, I wanted to ensure I had a professional product that readers would enjoy. So having a stellar cover (Thanks Jennifer Stolzer) and the right editing notes, everything from developmental, the line edits, to copy edits was extremely important to me. I’m very glad I put good money towards these things because it made the finished product that much better. And while I took on the cost, I ended with a product comparable in quality to traditionally published books, and that was the goal going in.
The most fun money I spent was on the swag. Bookmarks, stickers, bookplates, and notepads were so much fun to design from snippets of my cover art.
What is the most troublesome part of being an author?
Finding the time and headspace to write. Especially in this era of covid where we all have a million extra stressors, sometimes finding that balance of making myself put the butt in the chair and get things done vs knowing when I need a break can be a tricky balance. But also remembering to be kind to myself, because if I’m not in a good headspace my writing suffers.
What is the best piece of advice you have for other authors?
Find your people, the ones who will support you and cheer you on and cry with you when needed. I’d have quit a long time ago without solid critique partners that stuck with me and let me vent when I needed. Also, don’t listen to absolutes, there’s no right or wrong way to write, no you must do this, you must write every day or not every day. You do you find what works with you and run with it. When it stops working, adjust as necessary.
What is your favorite book?
Ender’s Game. I don’t reread books, but I’ve reread it several times, and I just love how the story came together and the twists.