HIT Blogger Turned Author: A Chat with Jaime Grimes

jaime mainIf you're a frequent reader of the Healthcare IT Leaders blog, then you may recognize the name Jaime Grimes. As our Director of Content Strategy, Jaime spends much of her day blogging and interacting on social media with our customers and consultants.

Outside of her day job, she's just published her first children’s book, “Green Clover, Green Leaves,” giving us the opportunity to brag about her and ask her a few questions about her journey into publishing. A graduate of Valdosta State University with a bachelor’s degree in English/journalism, Jaime has been a food and travel writer, written about personal finance, cars and apartments and leads our charity program.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about writing?
A: I love to hear and tell someone else’s story. When you’re interviewing someone, there’s always a moment you forget you’re working, and you’re just listening to a person say something interesting. In asking people questions about themselves, you learn what they’re most proud of, and you feel that with them.

Q: Children's books are so different from your day job of IT blogging. What's interesting to you about writing for kids?
A: They are an audience with the shortest attention span but the most fun to make laugh. I tested this book on my son, and my brother tested it out on his daughter, and they laugh at different parts, which is interesting. My niece seems to like the pictures more, while my son likes funny sounds.

Q: What is your book about? Where did the idea come from?
 "Green Clover, Green Leaves" is the first in our Teach Kids Colors series about teaching colors to children ages 1-5 that I've written and my brother Chris Peck, who's 19 months older, illustrated. The idea started when I noticed my own 3-year-old son and my 3-year-old niece were both having trouble learning the colors, so I started researching why that is. I found that pediatricians are often asked if their kids are colorblind, science-backed studies say kids learn colors best one at a time, and children learn object names before they recognize colors. So "Green Clover, Green Leaves" tells a story with only objects that are always green, like limes, leaves and even the main character's name, Clover. She's searching the world for all things green, and the book follows her journey.

Q: What are plans for the rest of the series?
A: We're releasing the red book in a few weeks, the blue and yellow books within the next year, and the orange, purple, black, white and brown books farther out.

Green Clover, Green LeavesQ: Not everyone can effectively collaboratively with a sibling, but your brother is the illustrator.  Did you work well together?
A: Ha, good question. Most of the time, yes. He's (still!) one of my best friends, is incredibly talented as an artist - and I'm not just saying that because I'm his sister - and developed the art direction well. I trust his opinion anyway, but he knew so much more about the art side of the books than I did. We don't live in the same city, so the distance was a challenge sometimes, as was the normal stuff, like finding time to work on the books between full-time jobs, families, homes and just life in general. He will tell you that drawing and painting on a deadline is tough, as it's a deviation from the typical creative process. Writing a children's book with my brother illustrating it is something he and I have always wanted to do, and it was harder than I expected, but I'm so glad we did it, and I'm looking forward to the rest of the books being released.

Q: Where can we find the books for purchase?
A: They're available from our Teach Kids Colors websiteAmazon and Barnes & Noble, and suggested retail is $9.95.

Q: What’s your favorite thing to do outside of work?
A: Without a doubt, it’s cook. Or cook and watch cooking shows, sometimes at the same time. Or eat.

Q: What’s your favorite food or favorite kind of food?
A: I am a huge fan of food in general, so this is a tough question. Korean food is my favorite cuisine. Other than that, it's a toss-up between Szechuan eggplant and crispy tofu, shrimp fajitas with guacamole and New York-style pizza with pepperoni and mushrooms. But if I were on a deserted island with only three things, I could subsist wholly on cheese, crackers and wine.

Q: Tell us something about you that might surprise your coworkers.
A: I found out I had melanoma in May 2005 when I was writing a first-person story for Skin Cancer Awareness Month for a newspaper. I was going to do a story on how it’s easy to make a dermatologist appointment, a biopsy doesn’t hurt (it does!), etc. As luck would (not) have it, I actually had melanoma in its earliest stage. I’ve had two additional melanoma surgeries since then. I’m starting to have as many scars as Frankenstein, but this month marks the 10-year point since I first had it, which is a very big deal to me. If you’re still reading this and are also in the mood to read something that will make you lose your appetite, my survivor story has been published on the Melanoma Research Alliance’s site.