Meri E. Ramey-Gray – Author Interview

What is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it.

Babies Guide to Parents (and Other Important People). This book is written strictly from the babies point of view. Besides many ‘a-ha’ moments, readers really get the feeling that they are listening to their babies communicating with them!

Tell us something about yourself.

I have lived my entire life on the East Coast until three years ago when I moved to the Midwest. I have been able to write for as long as I can remember. My mother had a standard for writing that was very thorough, so through school I never had less than an ‘A’ on a paper.

What inspired you to write this book?

I had a few inspirations for writing this book. There were a couple of key points that led up to this. When I had gone back to college to continue my studies, I went with a classmate and a Professor to a jail. This jail was the ‘six-month’ place after serving hard time, to help them adjust into life on the ‘outside’. I watched my Professor talk to this group of inmates and listened to him tell them ‘not to do what they had done to get in here’. I realized that it was similar to talking to teens, watching them roll their eyes with ‘I already know’ look on their face. The point wasn’t getting through. My Professor asked if we had anything to contribute and that poor little classmate of mine was frozen stiff. I did. I stood up and asked how many had children in their lives that they would be going back to. All of them responded. I asked them to close their eyes and imagine those children being chased by the police, tackled down, pulled to the back of the police car, cuffed and thrown into the backseat. All the children say, “I just wanted to be like you.”

Every single man sitting there started to shake their head, “No, no, no!”

I told them, “This is why you will want to do things differently when you get out. It is not just your life you are effecting.” I saw a light go off over each head and I knew that sometimes, you have to tell it from a ‘little’ point of view.

A few years later, I spoke at a ground-breaking ceremony for Early Head Start. I was asked to run for President, I did and I won. I felt that it was part of my job to speak on behalf of the little ones who could not yet speak for themselves. After my two terms were finished, I knew I had to keep speaking for them, which brought me to this book.

How did you publish this book?

I self-published this book after five rejections from publishers, but I had gotten great feedback from some literary agents. I truly felt that this book wasn’t doing any babies justice while it sat in my house.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?

This book is the first one that I had started on. I wrote three children’s books while writing this one and moved.

What do you believe is the hardest part of writing?

The hardest part, for me, is when I switch over to fiction, such as this novel that I have been stuck on, and I am at a spot where I know it is imperative to keep the reader with, but I am not sure how much detail is too much without losing interest.

How do you do research for your books?

With the baby book, I wrote a full and complete chapter first, then I researched. I wanted to prove to myself that I knew enough first to have the privilege of writing this book. I can safely say that I did a great job and the only ‘something’ that I had found was in ‘four month development’ it is good to jingle keys to help distract a baby whom is upset.

Did you learn anything from writing this book? What?

Many things, but the biggest part is being able to step into another ‘booties’ in this case and really be able to communicate what sometimes cannot be said. In addition, even when I have spoken with teens about this book, 75% of the students said they have completely changed their view of their own life, the relationship they have with their parents and what kind of parents they know they are going to be. This is very powerful stuff!

What are you reading now?

‘Scarpetta’ – Patricia Cornwell, ‘The Last Jihad’ – Joel Rosenberg

What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?

I believe that I go through ‘cycles’ of genres. I enjoy good crime, true history stories, and drama. First favorite author was Judy Blume. I can tell you that if I am not involved in the story within the first few pages, I may not ever pick it back up. Dean Koontz, Patricia Cornwell and in my ‘romance’ phase, I read them all.

Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?

I just finished the rough copy of ‘So You Think You Know Everything’. It is all about teens and parents, especially what teens really need to know before they become lawfully responsible for it. Parents have a hard separation time sending their children out the door, I know I will. However, if you work with your teen to be prepared for many things in life, I hope that parents will feel better knowing that they have given them great ‘life tools’ to send them off into the world.

What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?

Writing is a passion for an author. Passion is the intricate piece in any work of the creative arts to connect with your audience. Publishing is a whole other ball of wax, to coin a phrase. Publishing is hard to break, name recognition is huge and personal branding is very important. When there is a down-turn of the economy, the arts suffer, from books to theater. It is your personal passion that continues you to pursue the value of your work. LinkedIn is a great professional resource where I am also in the LinkEds Writers group.

What are you doing to promote your latest book?

Local newspapers are great media attention and I love to work with on-line magazines where I am able to add information into their articles. I am really excited that I also was able to get the attention of the Asst. Editor of ‘Today’s Parent’ magazine. Of course, Twitter and Facebook, LinkedIn and having your own website.

I love this particular time of year as it is a part of my ‘Babies’ Helping Mothers Build Homes’ campaign. All books purchased from http://www.babiesguide.net will donate $2 to Habitat for Humanity’s Women’s Build Week. The week is dedicated to helping single mothers build homes and this special week falls the week before Mother’s Day.

Where can readers learn more about you and your book?

Amazon.com has ten pages posted that you can read to easily get the feel and design of the book. The book’s website is http://www.babiesguide.net.

Twitter @meribabiesguide. Of course you can Google Meri Ramey-Gray and see the many places that this book and myself are ‘showing’.