St. Pete Beach writer Jami Deise has released her second novel, The Ties that Bleed, (published by Evernight Publishing) in June. According to Deise, (who self-published her first book, Keeping Score) “Ties had a much more arduous journey to publication.”
Deise, a Maryland native, says she has been studying writing all her life. “Writing was always there; it was something I always did,” she says. She recalls writing stories based on Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie books when she was in first and second grades. She went on to earn a journalism degree from the University of Maryland and took extra classes in writing and screenwriting, but she claims she was a writer before she had any formal training. “The classes helped me hone in on the details, but I think writers are born,” she says.
In her professional life, Deise always gravitated toward writing. She had a public relations job in Washington, DC where she wrote speeches and press releases. She was a copy editor for a magazine and marketing director for a Maryland baseball team. Along with her fiction writing, Deise reviews books at the web site www.ChickLitCentral.com, works as a reader and developmental editor at a New York based literary agency and for private clients, and runs a weekly writers group that meets in downtown St. Petersburg. She does this in addition to her job as a realtor.
“The Ties that Bleed was based on a screenplay called Bloodlines that I wrote in 2002,” Deise says. “It won a small horror screenplay contest called Screamfest, and did well in other, better known contests. It also got me some attention from agents, managers and production companies.” But Deise was unable to find a company to buy the screenplay, so she eventually set it aside to work on other projects.
After moving to Florida in 2012, she self-published Keeping Score, a book that was borne out of personal experience. It’s the story of Shannon Stevens, a single mother caught up in the cutthroat world of children’s competitive baseball. Written with heart and a dry sense of humor, the book chronicles the summer when Shannon’s 9-year-old son, Sam, plays on a travel baseball team. Shannon finds herself up against rigged try-outs, professional coaches, pitching and hitting instructors, crazed parents and fractured friendships. Deise loosely based on the book on her experiences with her son Alex, who began playing baseball in kindergarten and is currently a left-handed pitcher at Florida State University.
While Deise has no personal experience with vampires – other than being a fan of Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot and the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer – she decided to return to Bloodlines, always a personal favorite. “I enjoyed self-publishing Keeping Score, so I decided to turn Bloodlines into a novel and self-publish it as well.” But after her first draft, Deise realized the resulting book was much too short. “It needed to be about twice as long to be a novel,” she says. “The process probably took another year. I had to go back and add characters, make scenes longer, and have my main character do a lot more thinking.”
That main character, Diana Rowan, is a former vampire assassin for the FBI who teaches a class for new vampire killers. When an old enemy resurfaces, Diana is forced back into the field to protect her husband and daughter. While the plot places The Ties that Bleed in a completely different genre than Keeping Score, (which was humorous women’s fiction), both books feature a main character who is a working mom trying to balance her job and her home life. They also show mothers trying to shield their children from outside forces, be they lurking vampires or obsessed sports parents. Deise thinks this theme will resonate with any parent. “Parents want to help their kids when they’re struggling,” she says. “We can all relate to that.”
Although Deise had planned to self-publish The Ties that Bleed, she ended up placing the book with a small independent publisher instead. “With e-books exploding in popularity, there are a lot of small, specialized publishers that can handle the cover, editing and formatting for authors,” Deise says. “And Evernight has a good reputation among urban fantasy and paranormal fans. I was happy to let them handle the production so I could work on my next book.”
Deise’s third book, The Seesaw Effect, is closer in tone to Keeping Score. It takes place in the suburbs of Washington, D.C and is about a married couple with opposing political views whose relationship is tested by the husband’s new job. “I think a lot of people will relate to this story,” Deise says. “There are a lot of mixed political marriages out there, including my own. For a writer, it’s an instinct to look at people around you and wonder about their lives, to want to tell their stories. Writing is a calling that keeps you in touch with the human experience.”
For more information, visit the author’s blog at jamideise.blogspot.com.