Getting to know Jessica McBrayer

2400x2400StainedHave you had other careers before becoming a writer?

I’ve had jobs as a social worker, in marketing at the headquarters of the top office supplies store and had my own natural handmade soap and lotions business. My degree is in Biology and Botany. I’ve certainly landed far away from my original plans.

 Are you a full time writer or do you have a “day job”?

I am a full time writer. Which means I write, edit, promote and give guest lectures on writing. I love my job. It gives me freedom and to do the things that matter most to me.

 What genre(s) do you write in and why?

Paranormal romance, paranormal mystery and I am starting a series that “could” be classified as fantasy. The first novel that I remember reading was Little Women in third grade but I was bored. Very quickly I discovered Stephen King and starting devouring his books sometime during the fourth grade. I watched every scary movie I could get past my mom. Stephen King has been a major inspiration to me and I’ve scoured his book on writing. When he was still teaching my mom and I were this close to going to Maine for a month to take his class. It has definitely influenced my writing. By the way, I am a big wimp now when it comes to scary movies J

Tell us about your current series/WIP.

I am currently ending a much loved series. It started with the first full length novel I ever wrote. While it is bitter sweet to end it (San Francisco Vampires Series) I am pleased with it. I’m also starting a new series that will be situated in Nantes, France. I lived there for a year so when I thought of France it seemed a good decision for it to take place there. It’s not the typical Paris setting which I like about it. It will include gargoyles, demons and some angels, but predominately it’s about gargoyles.

 Do you have critique partners?

I couldn’t survive this whole process without my critique partners. My mom, also an author does my content editing – which is a pretty heavy edit depending on how I did capturing my plot and conflict. My second critique partner I met in a small critique group which we quickly out grew. Now we are best friends and it is amazing to be able to pick up the phone and ask a question or brainstorm when you are stuck. Since both have been with me since I started writing novels, they know my style, process and almost as much about the foundations of my books as I do. In my opinion, critiques partners are essential to the writing process. Especially indie-published authors.

 Do you have a view in your writing space? What does your space look like?

My writing space is in our office. A large room with a ton of bookshelves over flowing with books. No matter how many books I get rid of, I seem to find more to take their place. Even though I’ve gone completely digital with reading (Kindle Fire) I still have books I don’t want to get rid of or they are on craft. The rest of the room has floor to ceiling windows with big oak trees just outside and a view of the Golden Gate Bridge and of course that is where I planted my desk. It’s great to stare out at that view when I’m trying on new ideas.

 Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I have always been a pantser. Since I started writing seriously nothing has been plotted. Very few character notes and no series bible. I’m not sure how I got through lol. My new series requires a lot of world building and an overall arch. I’ve been doing character profiles and lots of notes. It’s new to me and I’m not sure how it will all work out. I do love to follow my tangents and that will probably never change. But it’s also been nice to know where I am going.

 Has your muse always known what genre you would write and be published in?

Yes! I’ve always been drawn to the paranormal. There is something to be said about being able to escape into a world that is so different than our own. And a little bit of difference makes life interesting.

 Do you or have you belonged to a writing organization? Which one? Have they helped you with your writing? How?

When I first started writing I knew that my books would have some kind of romance in them. I did some research and found Romance Writers of America. I think it is the largest professional writers group out there. Not only do they have chapters all across the country where you can learn about craft and publishing but they also advocate for their members, have online classes and have started a program that matches up critique partners. It has been paramount to any successes I have had. I highly recommend it. I have also been a member of Sisters in Crime, an organization that is dedicated to mystery writers. It is a fun group and I learned a lot from them as well. One time we did a meeting at a shooting range so we could pester the instructor about guns and how to use them and then I got to shoot up a zombie paper target. I still have it and have begged my husband to hang it up in the garage since no one will let me hang it in the house. J

 What advice can you offer to anyone deciding to self-publish?

Just do it! Make sure you get an editor and a professional cover design. A lot of people format their own books but it is a pain and if it isn’t done well you will get a lousy reviews. In my opinion it is worth it to hire a formatter or someone who has done it successfully before.

Golden-Gate-Bridge-Sunset EXCERPT




             “Suicide Prevention, this is Lilith, how can I help you?”

“Hi. Is this where I call to get drugs for anxiety?” a slightly blurred voice asks.

“No ma’am. This is the number you call if you’re having thoughts about harming yourself.”

I try to keep my voice professional as I stare at my featureless grey carpeted cubicle and Formica desk.

“Oh. Oh, I am. I really need the meds, you know, like Xanax? It’s free, right?”

“No ma’am. We can’t help you with that. I can offer you free counseling. Would you like to talk to one of our counselors tomorrow?”

“No, I just want the freaking drugs.”


Well, so much for caller number one. I hate when we get callers like that. I can’t do anything for them. I know they have problems, just not ones I can help with. We have to keep a complete account of every phone call. I’d rather stick bamboo shoots under my fingernails than do the paper work. As I fill out my log I see my supervisor stalking me… great.

“Lilith, oh Lily…”

“Yes, Meredith?” I say, head down, rolling my eyes.

“Did you fill out your insurance forms yet? You know that if you don’t you can’t get your medical.”

“Ummm, I don’t need medical.” I really don’t need medical.

“Lily, what is this on your desk?” Her voice rises. “You know we can’t have anything personal on our desks. You’re going to have to remove all this stuff.” She sniffs. Her short, chubby self, quivering with outrage.

“It’s only cleaning supplies, Meredith, some handi-wipes and Lysol. I don’t see how this is personal.”

“If you get cleaning supplies then Dan gets pictures of his kids. Remove them.”

I see Dan covertly slide his pictures off his desk out the corner of my eye. At least someone escapes the wrath of Meredith.

She walks away.

Just love her. With all my unbeating heart. I put my supplies in my bag for easy access. It will give me something to tweet about. She doesn’t follow me on Twitter so I can rant. If I didn’t love and feel so strongly about what I do, I’d use those cleaning supplies on her.

The grey painted walls, a school locker grey, not a warm grey or a lovely taupe, do nothing for the beautiful Victorian building where I work. Almost like they try to make it as depressing as possible.

Being among the cubicles, sometimes it’s hard to concentrate on my calls, even with my superior hearing, with all the other calls going on around me. But this is where I come three nights a week to do something that makes me feel good about myself.

The lines are busy tonight. I finish my notes and my line blinks again.

“Suicide Prevention, this is Lilith, how may I help you?”

“Hello dear, it’s Mrs. Gunderson. How are you tonight?”

“Hello, Mrs. Gunderson, I’m fine. How are you feeling? How is Sprinkles?”

“Mr. Sprinkles and I are feeling rather blue. My son was supposed to come and visit today and he canceled at the last minute. He said he had something come up at work. I haven’t seen him in months. It’s always something with him. You’d think he’d want to see his mother.”

“I’m sorry Mrs. Gunderson. That must have been very disappointing. How is Mr. Sprinkles taking it?” Mr. Sprinkles is code for Mrs. Gunderson. She describes his symptoms and I translate them into hers. She’s a long time caller, lonely and often needing to talk. I want to have a serious conversation with her delinquent son.

“Well, Mr. Sprinkles isn’t eating and he is having a hard time sleeping. I’m worried about him.”

“I am too, Mrs. Gunderson. Can you and Mr. Sprinkles come in and talk to one of our doctors?”

“Oh, I don’t know about that…”

“I think it would help Mr. Sprinkles sleep better and maybe start eating again. I’m so worried about him.”

“You’re such a sweet girl. I’ll talk to them just for you.”


Jessredux-72Jessica McBrayer lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She’s been writing her whole life and has seven books published through Mess of Geckos Publishing. Jessica has done everything from marketing, social work, public speaking and been a stay at home mom. She is a member of Romance Writers of America.
Contact her at:

Follow her on twitter: @jessimcbrayer

Visit her website

Find me on Face Book – Jessica McBrayer

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *