Jaime Lee Mann
At a Glance
-Grew up in a little house by the sea in Lower Rollo Bay, Prince Edward Island
-The eldest of four children
-Her imagination and her little sister were her best friends
-Spent everyday playing on the shore and in the winter, the "enchanted forest"
-Started her first business at age 9, making jewelry out of bits of driftwood and sea shells she found on the beach
Have you always been a writer? Tell us about your journey to becoming a writer.
I’ve dreamed of being a writer since I was about eight years old, but I didn’t think that being a writer in PEI would be the best way to earn a living. So I followed a crooked path after high school, studying entrepreneurship, dabbling in university courses, earning a diploma in office management, but always with the belief in my heart that I should be writing. When I was expecting my first child, I used my maternity leave to figure out a way to earn an income while staying at home with my child. I started my own business as a virtual assistant which eventually transitioned into a copywriting business as I’d been repeatedly hired for writing projects. I carved out my own little niche as a freelance writer to help me earn money while I dabbled in my own creative writing. Eventually I would team up with a very talented editor (Christine Gordon Manley) and we combined our writing and editing skills to form a full-service copy shop called Manley Mann Media. We’ve been in operation since 2010 and have a lot of fun working together. So I am employed by my own company by day, and in my downtime, I work on my own books. I was fortunate enough to have Blue Moon Publishers sign me for a novel series and a children’s picture book. After working as a ghostwriter for many years, in December of 2014, I got to see my own name on the cover of a book I’d written. That’s it in a nutshell :)
When it comes to writing/storytelling, what are you most passionate about?
I am passionate about telling stories in general, and each story has a different goal, and something within it that I’m passionate about. But overall, I would have to say that I am very passionate about forcing readers to look at things differently and to expand their imaginations.
Who or what has inspired you to follow your passions and take the leap to becoming an author?
I have many people who’ve inspired me to follow my dreams; my parents, my eternally supportive husband Jason, our children, my sister, my dear friend and editor, Christine. I’ve never had anyone tell me, “You can’t be a writer.” I’ve always had support and I’ve always been told that I have a gift with words that should be shared. I will, however, never forget Island author (and my own creative writing teacher) Hugh MacDonald telling me in high school that I had to write for a living. Those words made a big impression on me and I never let go of them.
Reflecting back on it, what were some of the most inspiring and exciting moments you experienced as a writer?
The moment when Heidi from Blue Moon Publishers said she wanted to publish my picture book, and also wanted a multi-book series of children’s novels. That was huge. Opening my first shipment of novels was a moment I will never forget. Seeing my book listed among the top ten list of Amazon kindle sales in my category. The first time I was asked by a young reader’s mom if I would pose for a photo with her son. Spotting my book on the shelf at Indigo. Getting my first 5 star review. Every time a child hands me their well-worn copy of Elora of Stone to see if I’ll sign it for them. I’m experiencing a new exciting moment every single day.
Tell us about The Legend of Rhyme Series. What's the inspiration behind this novel?
The Legend of Rhyme series was inspired by a bedtime story I made up for my children when they were about three and five years old… four years ago. My girls love being read to, but they really love when I make up stories for them, like my own dad did when I was a kid. This one night I was going on zero sleep and I was making up a bunch of nonsense about a little girl named Margaret who always did what she was told. But one day she was going through the woods and she tripped and fell and reached out to a tree to steady her but the tree wasn’t firm. The tree sucked her in. and when she woke up, she was surrounded by a world of magic. Fairies were flying through the air, and it went on like that. Every night they wanted to hear more “Margaret Story” so eventually I wrote it down. The Legend of Rhyme is based on that simple story but blown out to fill a series.
Prince Edward Island is a rather whimsical place to live. How does living here influence your work?
There is magic in the air here. I grew up on the water and was inspired by the sea every single day, whether it was covered in ice in January, angry and gray during an October storm, or sparkling blue on a summer day. I’m hugely inspired by nature and I do my best writing in the out of doors.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Always keep writing. If you feel in your heart that you were meant to be a writer, you were. Also, if you don’t quite think you have what it takes to be a writer, find a great editor. Anyone can be a great writer with a great editor.
What's in store for you in the coming months?
I’m in the revision stage at the moment for the third novel in the Legend of Rhyme series, Teagan of Tomorrow. That should be published in September or October. I’m also finishing up the outline of the fourth novel in the series, which I hope to have a final first draft of in the next couple of months. But I’m very excited about my upcoming series launch at the Prince Edward Island Preserve Company on July 4th. We’ll have pie and I’ll be doing some reading from the novels. I’ll be back at the Preserve Company a couple more times through the summer and I’m so excited to read in such a perfectly enchanting spot. I’m hoping to squeeze in a couple of readings in Halifax or Moncton this summer, too, but nothing has been confirmed as of yet. I also hope to get to the beach a few times. Oh and I am working on some ghostwriting projects which are going to eat up a large chunk of time, too. All good things!
What is the kindest thing anyone has ever done for you?
This is a very difficult question. I am surrounded by kindness all the time. I have had kind employers, kind clients, kind friends. I think the most kind random act I’ve experienced would have been many years ago when I was just a teenager, driving from Souris to Charlottetown. At some point around Dunstaffnage, one of the front tires came off my car. The gentleman who owns Ellis Towing came to my rescue and fixed me up at no charge, if I just promised to take his tire back to him when we got it replaced. That act did stay with me as a purely kind thing for a stranger to do for a shaken up and scared young woman.
Who is the one person you’d like to thank and what would you say to him/her?
I have so many wonderful people in my life, and I thank them all the time. But if it weren’t for Heidi Sander at Blue Moon Publishers taking a chance on me, there would be no Legend of Rhyme series. She is a wonderful mentor, a generous heart, and a good friend. I am ever grateful for her friendship and her trust in my talent.
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