Monthly Archives: July 2015

Author Jami Gray Visits our Blog

Today, we welcome Jami Gray to our blog. She is the author of numerous novels in the genres of urban fantasy and paranormal suspense and lives with her husband, two sons and a couple of female labs in the Southwest United States. Yes, the Southwest is a big area, but certainly no bigger than Jami’s imagination. Here is a little introduction from her web site:

“Welcome to my world where the women can be more dangerous than the men who love them, the monsters can hide behind your best friend’s face, a normal life becomes a fleeting dream and the dead are just as annoying as they were when they were alive.”  

Okay! So now we are seriously worried that it is not in fact Jamie Gray answering our questions, but some monster hiding just behind her face!  So, hoping that none of our questions are likely to get a monster angry, we shall begin.  Ahem…Jamie?

Please share with us a memory of visiting the library or of reading, preferably as a young child.

Before I was old enough to legally hold a job, Saturdays would arrive and I would bike five miles to my local library to shelve books all day long. I would spend hours lost in the quiet aisles, arranging books by the Dewey Decimal system, and loving every minute of it. The library held the books that allowed me to roam through worlds of magic and adventure ad nauseam.

Which book have you inherited from the generation above; that is, which book have you read and has stayed with you and made you reread it in whole or in part? What about the book created this attraction?

Susan Cooper-1

Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising series was the final flare that had me pulling out a typewriter and spending every waking moment creating a world where magic lived and breathed. This series had it all, the reluctant hero, destined paths, magic, bonds of friendship, and the fate of the world resting in uncertain hands. It was Urban Fantasy before Urban Fantasy was considered a genre.

(Being somewhat ignorant, we had to look Susan Cooper up and found this description on Wikipedia: “The Dark Is Rising is a series of five contemporary fantasy novels for older children and young adults, written by the English author Susan Cooper and published 1965 to 1977. The Dark is Rising, the second novel in the series, was published in 1973.”  Sounds like great stuff.)

Which book would you like to leave to future generations? Why? (NOT one of the books you’ve written).

Oh wow, this isn’t an easy question because there are so many great books out there. Hmmm, let’s go with Anne McCaffrey’s The White Dragon. I think Anne managed to combine a beautiful tale of redemption, magic, science-fiction, and romance into one package.

(Another for our TBR file).

Take a photograph of one of your bookshelves. If a stranger were to enter your room and see it, what would it tell that person about you?

Jami's Bkcase

Since it’s one of seven through out my house, they’d realize pretty quick I’m an avid reader. So are the males I live with (1 hubby and 2 sons). We’re geeks of the highest order—books, comics, and games abound. My tastes run from high fantasy, mystery, romance, and urban fantasy. I’m all over the place, so long as it’s a great story, I’m there.

 

On your website, you mention that you were adopted at age 14 and had thirty-seven siblings.  How did your family situation affect your writing?

After being adopted at the age of fourteen, my state mandated therapist suggested I keep a journal.   Funny thing, it got boring so instead, I started creating stories and characters that were much more interesting than reality at the time. I started writing fiction in earnest as a freshman in high school. Back in the dark ages, typing on an actual typewriter was a required class. My parents had invested in an electric typewriter so the six of us in high school could practice our typing skills. Needless to say, I would hover over siblings until they finished then I would commandeer the typewriter for my own nefarious purposes. By the time I began to pack for college at eighteen, I had almost 200 pages of YA fantasy novel done. And no, it will never, ever, see the light of day again. After that, writing was something I had to do.

(Ah yes, we remember typewriters. We preferred a manual. Light, portable, and not likely to be stolen).

You write Urban Fantasy and Paranormal suspense. In what ways are these genres different and the same in your view.

Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Suspense share some key elements: unexplainable skills, a heart-pounding plot, and strong characters with serious flaws. Where UF will introduce you to the fantastical creatures (vamps, shifters, fairies, demons, psychic slugs) and tend to keep their heroes/heroines on the gray side of morality, Paranormal Suspense characters will utilize incorporeal aspects into their already messed up lives (psychic abilities, unexplainable hunches, humans with unexplainable abilities or skillsets), as they try to work in a world where they don’t fit. My PSY-IV Teams is Paranormal Suspense, so my characters won’t be running into an actual bloodsucker any time soon. However, they have enough to worry about with power drunk individuals intent on their private agendas. In the Kyn Kronicles, you’ll find the same attitude, but it’s paired with claws and teeth since it’s Urban Fantasy. Not sure which would be more dangerous, but it will definitely get your blood pumping.

Are there any genres that you have never written in that you would like to try? Why or why not?

There are two genres I enjoy but wouldn’t dabble in, because both require unique talents I’m not so sure I could pull off. One is Horror, and the other is Erotica.

Attach a photo of you (preferably one that we have not seen before, perhaps in some activity that you enjoy!)

RT 2014

I love this pic. It was taken in New Orleans at the RT 2014 convention. I was enjoying my BFF and Café Du Monde’s beignets and coffee. Great combo!

(We love it also.)

Please let us read an excerpt from one of your books.

SHADOW’S EDGE

They were passing two darkened buildings when the hushed sound of metal against cloth whispered through the air. It was followed by the soft sound of water squelching under a foot.

She didn’t falter, and neither did Gavin. A couple of steps more and she had both wrist blades in her hands. The black coated blades blended into her own dark garments, their silver runes turned in toward her body so no light would reflect off them. She shot a look at Gavin and saw his hand down by his thigh, a long darkened blade tucked close to his leg. She’d have to remember to ask where he kept that thing.

His free hand made a series of short motions. She gave a tiny nod to let him know she understood. At the next dark opening, they would turn a corner, and she would fade into the shadows to wait. The plan was to let the mystery stalker turn the corner and continue to follow them before he realized one of them had disappeared. They were banking on the fact most people wouldn’t be able to see clearly in the inky darkness.

As they turned the corner, she made her move toward the shadows. Gavin continued forward. In just steps, both realized they weren’t alone in the alleyway. It seemed the bad guys were a bit more prepared than usual. Three more figures spread out from inside the alley. She spun around, putting her back to Gavin’s. She was slightly miffed when she saw that instead of one person, two individuals blocked the opening.

Damn, how had she missed the second one?

Here is the cover for Shadow’s Edge.

Shadows Edge Cover

And here is where you can buy it!

 

Amazon: Shadow’s Edge

You can find Jami and her books at all of these places as well: at:


Black Opal Books
:   www.BlackOpalBooks.com

Muse It Up Publishing: http://museituppublishing.com

Website:     www.JamiGray.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jamigray.author

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/JamiGrayUFWriter

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/JamiGrayAuthor

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/JamiGray

 Google+: https://google.com/+JamiGray

Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.com/e/B006HU3HJI

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/LvoZn

 Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/jamigrayauthor/

You can find all the buy links for Jami’s books, including The Kyn Kronicles and PSY-IV Teams, in all formats at:

 http://jamigray.com/kynkronicles/

 http://jamigray.com/psyivteams/

 

A Walk to Randall’s Island

Distant Bridge copy

 

This is a view to the east from our terrace. When we first moved here in 1976, it was a much more expansive view, but, New York being what it is, a host of new huge buildings have gone up along Third Avenue and so we are miraculously left with this view of a little slice of the river and of two bridges in the distance.  Those bridges are the RFK Bridge (once known as the Triboro Bridge, an uninspired name if ever there were one, but descriptive) and the old Pennsylvania Railroad Bridge, over which the trains from Penn Station travel on their way to New England.

I have decided that it would be a fun idea to walk across the RFK (Triboro) Bridge (no, I wasn’t on any drug except coffee at the time).  And the first leg was to find out how exactly one gets from the RFK Bridge to Manhattan.  Getting on in Queens was easy to find on the internet.  Getting off on Randall’s Island was not so simple.  So, I asked my son, Zach, who trained for the Marathon by running back and forth to Randall’s Island Park (among other far-flung places), to come with me and show me how such a walk might work.

So we set out on a beautiful day (of which we have had many this summer).  We walked over to the FDR drive at 96th Street and took the path along East River.  In the distance we could see the footbridge that would carry us across. Doesn’t it look graceful?

Footbridge

And this is a view on the footbridge itself.

Footbridge 2Since we live in New York, most bridges have been fitted with fencing that makes it more difficult for “people” to throw things off at other people passing below.  I know, I know … it’s hard to believe that “people” do such things.  It is maddeningly astoundingly mindblowingly (maybe not a word, but you get the idea) STUPID.  And this is the view we are left with on the footbridge itself:

Safety firstI guess it’s cute that some sweet couple pledged their love forever by leaving a lock on the fences.  Awwwwww …

Moving on, this is what greets you on the other side of the footbridge.   I was very glad that there was no reason to put a fence around it.

hello

This is a picture of the Triboro (sorry, RFK) Bridge up a little closer.  Do you think it is the beautiful blue sky, or the clouds, or the water that makes even this most practical of bridges something to admire?

Triboro RFKAnd here is the Pennsylvania Railroad Bridge.  If I had been paying a little attention, I would have gotten a picture of a train coming over that bridge.  But I was too busy enjoying the sun and the blue sky and the clouds.  You will have to imagine it!

Railroad Bridge  Then we got a surprise and something of a puzzle.  Beneath the uprights of the Triboro Bridge (there I go again), there was a 8 or 10 foot high stump of a tree that had been (guessing) fifty to sixty years old when it was cut.  All of the bark had been worn off and an amazing tree face was left.Randalls Island

 

Here is the puzzle.  The Bridge was opened to the public by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1936.  If it had been cut off at that time, I doubt that even a stump would still be left.  Therefore, it seem more likely that it began to grow sometime after the bridge was first opened and continued to grow in this unlikely spot until someone realized that it might be doing damage to the bridge itself.  So, is it a face that is smiling at the thought that it lasted so long, or a face that is sad considering what it might have become?  Your choice.

Then I got the big surprise.  Zach led me to a path that I never knew existed, past wetlands habitat and lined with beautiful flowers.  Butterflies were on the flowers. And, although this is a terrible photograph (it just would not sit still) I was able to identify it as a spicebush swallowtail.  Nice!

Spicebush Swallowtail   So here are some photographs of the path that we walked.  The first is looking across the East River toward Harlem.walk 1

This  one shows how the path winds through the trees.  The shade was very inviting on that hot summer day.

Walk 2

Purple flowers.  Who does not like purple flowers?  Are they lavender?  I don’t know.

walk 3

More flowers of many types.  Bees and butterflies were plentiful.

walk 5All in all, it was a beautiful day, and as we passed back over the footbridge, I barely thought once about “people” who throw things off bridges.  Although I did curse the fence.

Boscobel and the Old West Point Foundry

Last week Anne and I took a little road trip up the Taconic to a house we had never visited before called Boscobel.  It was a beautiful summer day with a brilliant sun and a very blue sky and white fluffy clouds and almost no humidity.  Here is a picture of the house.MansionThe house was not originally on this spot, but had been removed from its previous location and placed here by heroic efforts led by a local historian, Benjamin West Frazier during the 1950s.  The renovation was twice funded by Lila Wallace a co-founder of Readers’ Digest and is now regarded as one of the most authentic reproductions  of architecture, decorative arts  and furniture of the Federal Era.  Thank you Mr. Frazier and Ms Wallace.

The outside is kinda nice too.

YardThis is the view from the “back” of the house, looking down toward the Hudson River.  If you follow the red brick path, you come to this.

Constitution marshIn the distance is the Hudson River.  In the foreground is another important piece of preservation work —  Constitution Marsh. This good deed for us all was accomplished by the Audubon Society which has preserved the marsh for many years and will, it is hoped, preserve it into the distant future.  Vigilance is needed!

West PointIf your eyes were to travel to the right of the prior photograph, you would see this — West Point, without which, I suppose, we might not have the ability to preserve anything.  yesterdayThis is a painting of essentially the same area.  We will come back to the subject of this painting later in this post, but it seemed a nice counterpoint to the other photos.

The grounds of Boscobel include trails through a woods and even down to the Constitution Marsh.  We kept to the high ground.

TrailWe saw many things along the way, but this little mushroom caught my attention.  Red!  That means we can eat it, right?  Or does that mean we should not eat it?  Where is that guidebook when I need it?  Oh well.

MushroomAnd here is a picture of the caretaker’s house.  Nice work if you can get it.

CaretakerAfter we left Boscobel, we traveled a short distance down the road to Cold Spring Harbor and explored yet another preservation effort, this time for the West Point Foundry.  The foundry was built  around 1818 and supplied the army with guns, among other things.  It is famous for the Parrott guns (there were many sizes) that were used during the civil war to kill people and destroy things with great accuracy and at amazing distances.  Amazing to me anyway.  They used the mountain across the Hudson river for target practice when they tested the guns.

Here is a very big Parrott gun.

Parrot large

And here is a little baby one.Parrot smallBoth have the same singular purpose.  During the Civil War, 2,500 guns were manufactured here and 3 million projectiles.

The foundry made other products.  Pipes for the New York City water system.

water pipesAnd cast iron fronts for some of New York’s buildings, many of which are still in use today.

Home depot facadeHere are some of the men who worked in the foundry.  I love looking at pictures like this.  I imagine each of them had a wife and children who loved him.  They worked very hard.

workersHere is a painting of the inside of the furnace.  Imagine it on a day when it is 90 or 100 degrees out.  I doubt they got the day off.  Remember the painting of the Hudson River with all the smoke?  That was the dock from which product was shipped down the river.  The black clouds were not rain clouds.

Painting interiorToday there are hiking trails through the area once dominated by the foundry. You can see the actual spot where they once shot “projectiles” at the mountain across the river. 

factoryThis is one of the buildings that remains standing.  Birds call.  Raspberry bushes grow along the trails.  Wild flowers broom.  Mostly it is very quiet.

 

A Walk Across High Bridge from Manhattan to the Bronx

On July 4th, Alice, Zach and I took a trip up to Highbridge Park in Washington Heights, on the upper end of Manhattan, and walked across High Bridge.  I had driven under it many times, wondered about it, marveled at it, and read about it, and when it was reopened in June of this year after being closed for over forty years, I was determined to walk across it.  (More on why it was closed later).  Oh yes, click on pictures to enlarge them!

The bridge1The High Bridge, so named because it really is very tall, was originally built to bring water from the Croton Reservoir across the Harlem River and into Manhattan.  It was designed to resemble a Roman aqueduct and no doubt caused feelings of great pride in the New Yorkers of the time.  It was beautiful.

highbridge-rev2Above is a picture from the Bronx side of what High Bridge looked like when it was first built.  In 1928, four spans on your left were replaced by a single steel arch in order to make the Harlem River easier to navigate.

This is a picture of New Yorkers enjoying themselves walking across the span back in the the 19th Century, when this was a favorite excursion.

Highbridge1869rev-323x380This is a picture of some visitors yesterday.

Alice and meO tempora, o mores!

But yes, that would be me and Alice.  And here is Zach and Alice.

Alice and ZachAnd here is a view of the entire bridge, looking from the Bronx side to Manhattan.

The Bridge2You will remember that the bridge was closed for over forty years.  I will show you a picture and ask you to try to figure out why it was closed.

North and fenceNo, the answer is not because that is the ugliest view in America!  Although looking at the Cross Bronx Expressway, the Deegan Expressway, and the railroad tracks is not easy on the eyes.  The reason is illustrated by the fence that was put up to stop “people” from throwing things over the side onto cars, trains, and boats that passed beneath.  I know, I know.  Why the…. Never mind.  Deep breath.

We left the bridge and walked through HighBridge Park on the way home.  The Park at one time had a huge Reservoir.  It now has a nice size swimming pool.  It also has trails on which one can forget that there are people in the world who throw things off bridges.

ThistelThere are also mulberry trees where we stopped and ate a few, as we do every year, at least once a summer, just to prove we know they really are edible and will not kill us!  The park also has beautiful rocks, although (and Alice says I am being paranoid) one rock definitely gave me a Bronx cheer.

Bronx cheerThis rose was not in the park, but was so beautiful, it had to be part of the remembrance of the day.

RoseAnd, since it was a walk on July 4th, it would not be right to leave out one of the nicest sights of all.

Flag and cloudsHappy fourth of July!