During the summer of 2017, I had the delightful privilege of becoming an advanced reader for Jamie Beck, who writes heartwarming stories about love and redemption. The kind of stories that draw me in like honey to bees. Before the end of the first chapter of the first book in The Cabots series, Before I Knew, I was hooked. Jamie tells stories in a way that makes me feel like I know the characters. Like they are my best friends, family, classmates, or neighbors. I have since read book 2, All We Knew, and have the 3rd, When You Knew, in my line-up to read before its release on June 26, 2018 (it’s available for pre-order). In addition to this series, Jamie has several other series, and stand alone novels. Although I haven’t read them yet, I know they will be just as endearing and compelling. So settle back and learn about an author I know you will love as much as I do.
Jamie, tell us a little about yourself.
My journey to becoming an author was winding and unexpected. I have two graduate degrees (JD/MBA) and spent the first decade of adulthood as a commercial real estate and lending lawyer. When I had my first child, I was fortunate to have the choice to stay at home with her, so I did. Two years later, we had a son. When they both hit grade school, I found myself with too much free time. I didn’t want to go back to full-time legal practice, yet volunteering locally didn’t fill up enough of my time, so I sat down and wrote my first manuscript in secret (to fulfill a childhood dream). That one is still under my bed, but it got me started and, two years later I had an agent and a publishing contract. When I’m not writing, I’m listening to music (sometimes my own daughter’s original songs), cooking, skiing, hiking, or reading. Recently, we bought a puppy we named Mo, who gets me out of the house for daily walks these days.
** I’ve heard that lots of authors have that first, second, or third manuscript hiding in a drawer somewhere. I’d love a peek inside one of them.
What do you like to read? Are there books that have made you cry?
I could name many, but the first three that come to mind are My Sister’s Keeper, by Jodi Picoult, Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes, and Ravishing the Heiress, by Sherry Thomas. I love, love, LOVE books that bring me to ugly tears. A central question in each of these stories is about what choices/sacrifices we are willing to make for the people we love. When characters make heroic sacrifices, I’m always moved to tears.
** Ah ha! I knew there was a reason we clicked. We have a lot in common in what we like to read. Ugly tears – yep, that’s me, hands down. If a book doesn’t yank at my heartstrings I’m not sure I have time for it.
What genre(s) do you write in? Is there one you’d like to try?
Technically, I write contemporary romance because each of my books is centered on the development of a romantic relationship and each ends happily. However, my books incorporate a lot of women’s fiction elements (family sagas, realistic everyday conflicts, etc.), so I refer to them as romantic women’s fiction. I feel fortunate that my publisher has given me the latitude to write these genre-blended books. On the downside, hardcore romance and hardcore women’s fiction readers alike will probably be a little less satisfied because their expectations might not be fully met. There is, however, a healthy section of crossover readers, and that group contains my ideal reader.
I would like to write a straight women’s fiction/general fiction novel some day (if I can find the time between the books under contract). I have some ideas kicking around, so we’ll see!
** Again, a reason I love your work. Although there are exceptions, I’m not a huge fan of hardcore romance—most simply don’t satisfy my deep longing for more of some unnamed quality. I’ve found the blended Women’s Fiction/Love Story novels to be the most compelling. My own debut novel, The Art of Healing, is very much in a similar vein—not pure Women’s Fiction, not pure romance.
Do you have a favorite Indie author?
I believe Colleen Hoover is (or at least started out) as an indie. Her books really grab me. They are always page-turners with fresh concepts and wonderfully drawn characters. In particular, I loved It Ends With Us. I thought she did a tremendous job of portraying how and why someone might end up in an abusive relationship (and stay there too long).
** She sounds like an author I’ll have to check out. I just added it to my TBR list.
What is the most special thing a reader has said about anything you’re written?
Actually, some of my most special fan letters have come from people who’ve read my debut novel, In The Cards. Two stand out in my memory. The first was from a woman who, like Levi, the hero in that story, was abandoned by a parent. She told me that, for most of her life, she’d never been able to articulate her feelings about her situation until she read it in one of Levi’s scenes in which he confronts the parent who left him. Because we writers often write about things beyond our own experience, I was proud to have “gotten it right” in that sense. The other note was from someone who was drifting through life without real self-satisfaction, unsure of who she was and what she wanted. Lindsey’s journey gave her hope that, no matter her age, it wasn’t too late to start something new. I felt great that something I made up actually helped someone feel hopeful about confronting a real-life problem.
** What an honor to have a reader tell you that. To know you’ve touched a life is the highest compliment.
Tell us about the book currently available for pre-order.
Late June 2018 marks the release of the third and final novel in my Cabot series, When You Knew, which is a set of love stories set in Oregon against the backdrop of a dysfunctional blended family. While there are some heavy topics addressed (mental illness, infertility, single-parenthood), the ultimate message in each book is one of hope and second chances. The series in order, along with blurbs can be found at http://jamiebeck.com/books/cabot-novels/
WHEN YOU KNEW (Cabot Three)
Gentry Cabot’s rebellious life comes to a screeching halt when a one-night stand leads to a sobering new reality: motherhood. Exhausted and overwhelmed, the former wild child struggles to raise an infant on her own. After a lifetime of feeling like the odd Cabot out, Gentry knows that what her son needs most is family. For his sake, she plans to rebuild bridges with them, but first she needs a little help on the home front.
Humanitarian worker Ian Crawford has devoted his life to service. Forced to temporarily return stateside, he’s eager to head back to Haiti to expand the nonprofit he just founded in his late father’s honor. He can’t do that without money, so when Gentry offers a hefty paycheck for a short-term gig as a live-in nanny, he can’t afford to say no. Ian expects to deal with a barrage of privileged problems. What he doesn’t expect is how quickly being a makeshift father transforms him.
Despite his growing attachment to Gentry and her child, Ian still has his dreams, and Gentry wants a full-time dad for her son. When the baby’s father reenters the picture, will Gentry and Ian embrace the family they’ve formed or end up worlds apart?
What are you working on now?
I’m super excited about my upcoming series, the Sanctuary Sound novels, which are based on three childhood friends (the Lilac Lane League), all of whom have suffered a separate trauma, and who are returning to their coastal Connecticut town to heal and begin again. The first book, THE MEMORY OF YOU, releases in late October of 2018. It’s a high school sweetheart reunion love story, and I truly adore its characters. I hope readers will fall for them, too. It’s available for pre-order—here’s the blurb:
After a brutal assault leaves Steffi with puzzling memory lapses, she returns to her coastal Connecticut hometown to rebuild her life the best way she knows how: with her hands. But starting a remodeling business with one longtime friend puts her in the middle of a rift with another. Worse, being hired by her ex-boyfriend’s mother forces her to confront old regrets.
Public defender Ryan Quinn wasn’t shocked when his wife left him, but he was floored when she abandoned their daughter. With his finances up in the air, the newly single dad returns to his childhood home in Sanctuary Sound. The last person he expects, or wants, to see working on his family house is Steffi Lockwood—his first love who shattered his heart.
Although Steffi and Ryan are different people now, dormant feelings rekindle. But when Ryan’s concern for Steffi’s mental health prompts him to dig into her past for answers, will what he learns bring them together or tear them apart for good?
**That sounds like one I’ll have to read.
Questions of interest to other authors
- Do you believe in writer’s block?
I don’t know that I believe in writer’s block, per se, but I do believe it’s easy to get stuck in the middle of a story, or to write yourself into a corner and need to regroup. This is when having a great support system (critique or plotting partners) comes in handy. When I find myself spending a few days spinning my wheels, I send out a virtual SOS to my MTBs (my plot partners), who then all weigh in with fresh ideas or fixes. Even when I don’t use something they suggest, the exercise usually jogs my brain into coming up with a fix. Another way I loosen plot knots is by taking long walks. I swear by this one. It works every single time.
** I’m so happy you have your MTBs. Critique and plot partners are crucial. I can’t even imagine trying to write a novel without them.
- Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad ones?
Negative reviews are one of the most difficult parts of being an author. I used to torture myself by reading them, but now I don’t read any reviews, not even the good ones (although I certainly appreciate each and every one of them). When I have to go on Amazon or Goodreads for some reason, I’ll note the number of reviews and the average score. I figure as long as 80% of the people like (or love) the story, I’m doing my job as well as I’m able. There is no way I can write a book that will please each and every reader. I understand that better now, and so I feel that, if someone gets some satisfaction out of ripping my work to shreds in public, that’s her right, but I don’t need to dig for pain and read it. And honestly, if a book is well-written and edited, chances are it isn’t a bad book so much as a bad fit with that particular reader. This is also why I don’t pay too much attention to reviews of books I’m considering reading (unless the reviewer is someone whose taste I know aligns with my own).
Where can readers learn more about you?
It’s easiest to simply go to my website, where links are available for each book on my bookshelf. An added bonus: check out my Extras page, with links to Pinterest boards and Spotify playlists for each book! www.jamiebeck.com
You can also find Jamie on any of these social media sites:
Jamie, thank you for your time today. I look forward to reading many more of your books.