Today we're visiting with author Maggie Jaimeson on her tour with Goddess Fish Promotions for the contemporary romance novel, "Healing Notes".
Maggie will award one autographed cover flat to a randomly drawn commenter at each blog stop. In addition, she will award a $25 gift card to either Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner's choice) as a grand prize to one randomly selected commenter on this tour, so comment today AND follow her tour (if you click on the banner above, it'll take you to a list of her tour stops)! The more you read and comment, the better your odds of winning. You could be introduced to a great new author AND win a book!
Maggie was kind enough to answer all of my prying questions. Take it away, Maggie!
Why do you write in your genre? What draws you to it?
I love the romance genre because it deals with the most important and most difficult part of our lives, the building and sustaining of relationships. The first part of my adult career was spent as a family and marriage counselor. So often the difficulties which moved people to seek counseling were around communication, empathy with their partner or children, and even knowing what they wanted out of any relationship. Contrary to popular belief, marriage counseling is not all about the sex. However, a problematic sexual relationship is indicative of a problematic romantic relationship.
The romance genre allows us to explore our expectations of the most intimate relationships we have, and to vicariously resolve problems that likely exist in our own lives. Sometimes it is as simple as the universal search on how to know when you’ve actually met “the one” to partner with in life. Other times it is to experience how someone else overcomes psychological or physical wounds from past relationships in order to be ready to give to someone else. It is in watching the characters navigate these difficulties that we in turn have hope for ourselves. There is nothing more gratifying than closing a book and feeling that it spoke to you in some way, that it gave you a reason to keep trying to find or to sustain your own relationships.
What research was required?
The Sweetwater Canyon series are contemporary novels, but that doesn’t mean there is no research required. For this series of books I am constantly doing research on music—specifically Celtic music, roots music, country music and even the blues. I want the feeling of the music and its relationship to the character arcs to fit, and I want to be true to the experience of being in a small band.
For Healing Notes, in particular, I also did research into the legal world around prosecuting rapists, particularly from what the victim may experience. Though we hear about rape all the time in the news, we really don’t know a lot about it. That is proven by the continued misunderstandings about this crime of violence and the many complex ways in which victims deal with the aftermath.
Name one thing you learned from your heroine.
No matter how much you think you understand a person, it is likely that there is ten times as much you don’t know. We all wear masks to some extent and we all have secrets. Not only does my heroine, Rachel have secrets she is keeping from her bandmates and from the man she falls in love with, but she has secrets she is even keeping from herself. All of us have secret lives in some way. It may be a secret fantasy we’ve never shared because we are simultaneously afraid what others might thing and afraid of what would happen if we really indulged. Our secret may be a fear of something we believe will happen or something we can’t control. Though many secrets are a part of determining what we want and don’t want to happen in our lives, they still impact us more than we realize. The ore we are afraid to share our secret, the more likely it is that it is effecting every part of our life.
Any odd or interesting writing quirks, habits or superstitions?
Probably too many to count. I do have two vows I break with every book. One is that I will read nothing in the genre I’m writing during the writing process. This usually works for about the first half of the book—the time during which I’m developing my characters, the story arc, and themes. However, at the halfway point I always become sure that I’m never going to make it to the end, that things are too complex and can’t possibly be resolved. This is when I hold up for an entire weekend and read two or three romance novels without stopping. Part of it is an unconscious effort to analyze how other authors resolved the muddy middle. Another part is just to be carried away in a book I know will end happily.
The second vow I break with every book is that when I get to the climax I won’t back down. What happens is that I fall in love with my characters and I really, really, really don’t want to put them through that climactic moment that is going to break there heart or wreak havoc in their lives. It is so painful to go there. It doesn’t matter how many times I tell myself it is just a story. It doesn’t matter that I know they will get out of it and live happily ever after. I just want to avoid the pain for them so much that I stall for a few days—sometimes even for a week. Of course, I do go there, and they do resolve it, and they do live happily ever after. But during those few days, I’m really bitchy as I struggle with all that avoidance of conflict stuff. Needless to say, my husband makes himself scarce during that part of my writing.
Plotter or pantser?
I’m what other people have coined a “plantser.” What that means is that I do a little of both, but the majority is pantser. I begin every book with one very vivid scene in my mind or, in the case of my futuristics or romantic suspense, one high concept looking for a character. Then I start writing and hope that a story emerges. I write for about 50-75 pages discovering my characters, their goals and motivations, and what is stopping them from achieving those goals. Usually at that point I now know the general shape of the story. So, then I brainstorm the plot.
This part of my novel development really is pure brainstorming for me. I write lots of notes on little stickies and paste them all around my computer monitor. Eventually, certain ones make more sense than others and those become the guideposts for my plot. This is not an outline or a step-by-step structuring of the novel. It is words or themes I’ve decided are important. Then I start writing again.
Finally, as I approach the climax I get really scared (as I said above). More than that I get worried that I wont be able to get my hero and heroine out of the sticky wicket I’m driving them toward. That is when I actually plot in the normal sense of the word. That is I write at least one or two paragraphs for the rest of the chapters in the novel to make sure I can successfully pull together all the threads and give my characters their happily ever after.
Yes, it’s a totally crazy process and every time I tell myself I’m going to change and “do it right” next time with outlines and spreadsheets and character descriptions completed up front. But I don’t. It doesn’t work for me. I need that writing-into-the-ether time. I need that pure brainstorming time. I need to live and breathe my characters lives for 200-250 pages before I plot in the true sense of the word.
Look to your right – what’s sitting there?
The other part of my L-shaped desk. On the surface in the back is a family picture of my two step-sons, my husband and I that reminds me of how lucky I am in this life. Next to it is a picture of my husband and I on our wedding day in front of a castle in Dunoon, Scotland. Another reminder of the blessings in my life. In front of the pictures is a stack of writing-related magazines: Romantic Times Book Reviews, the Romance Writers Report, and the Author’s Guild quarterly magazine for members. Next to that is the insert to the church bulletin where I have circled events I want to attend or groups I wish to try out. To be fair, I frequently don’t get to those groups, but I do keep circling them and holding the idea out that I will get there. Finally, on the far end of the desk is my in-basket piled high with all kinds of things I’m supposed to do this week. This ranges from paying bills, contacting people, following-up on promises, all the usual daily requirements of modern life.
Anything new coming up from you? What?
The third book in the SweetWater Canyon series, Heartstrings – Sarah’s story, is scheduled for July 2013 and the final book, Two Voices—Kat and Theresa’s stories, is scheduled for November 2013.
I also recently finished my first YA fantasy novel, under the name Maggie Faire, that is making the rounds of publishers now. Fingers crossed that someone falls in love with it and publishes it to great fans.
Do you have a question for our readers?
I would love to know if your readers like books that deal with difficult real-life issues the hero and heroine need to overcome, or if they prefer to read a romance that offers pure escape—escape to the beach or escape to an entirely different world. And whatever the answer, please give me an example of a book which did that really well.
Thank you very much for having me on your blog. I absolutely love hearing from readers and I love talking about books. Reading romance has been critical in getting me through many difficult times in my life, and I’m always interested in recommendations for books or authors I haven’t tried yet.
Rachel Cullen grew up in Scotland with a fiddle in her hand from the age of four. She couldn't imagine life as anything but a musician. When her husband brought her to America she was immediately embraced by the Celtic and Bluegrass communities. But after her divorce, Rachel's life is a mess.
A year of trying to prove to herself that she's woman enough for any man, and then a vicious rape while on tour with the band, leaves Rachel reeling. When she meets Noel Kershaw, an English teacher who is poetry in motion, she is definitely attracted. But he has a young child and he's suffering from his own divorce. The last thing Rachel needs in life is more baggage.
First, Rachel must reconcile who she is, what she wants, and how to get there. Maybe then she'll know how to be a part of the family she's always wanted.
Claire crawled onto a stool on the other side of the island and smiled. Neither of them talked for several minutes as they listened to the water in the pot heat.
“When I grow up, I’m going to play with Sweetwater Canyon all the time.”
“Are you sure you want to hang out with all us old folks?”
“You’re not all old. Well maybe a little old. But Kat isn’t old.”
Rachel smiled. “That’s true. She’s only seventeen.” And going on twenty-five it seemed sometimes.
“Oh, seventeen? That is old.” Claire put a finger to her lips and furrowed her brow. “How old do I have to be to play in the band all the time?”
“Probably at least eighteen.”
“But, you just said Kat—”
“Kat is different, because her mother plays in the band and can watch her all the time.”
“Well, you can watch me all the time. You can be my mother.”
“Well, can’t you?”
“Can’t she what?” Noel walked in the room and lifted Claire off the chair in a big hug, swinging her around the room. “Can’t she what? She can do anything she wants.”
“See,” Claire leaned forward and looked at Rachel over Noel’s shoulder. “See, even Daddy thinks you can be my mother.”
“Whoa.” Noel set Claire back on the stool. “I’m not sure what I walked in on here.” He sent an accusing glance to Rachel. “You already have a mother, Claire.”
“I know. Not my real mother. My second mother. You know, like my friend, Megan. Her mommy and daddy got divorced and her daddy married a new mommy. So, Megan has two mommies now. See? Rachel can be my second mommy. Okay?”
HEALING NOTES is the second book in the Sweetwater Canyon Series of four books. The final two books will be available in 2013.
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Maggie-Jaimeson/118916694787820 Twitter: @maggiejaimeson
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Maggie_Jaimeson_Healing_Notes?id=53ypLid4VHUC&feature=search_result#?t=W251bGwsMSwxLDEsImJvb2stNTN5cExpZDRWSFVDIl0
For print books:
Jan's Paperbacks: http://www.janspaperbacks.com/