Monday, January 21, 2013

Interview with romantic fiction author Maggie Jaimeson

Please welcome romantic fiction author Maggie Jaimeson to Reviews and Interviews. She's sharing today with us to talk about her newest novel, Healing Notes.

Maggie's tour is every Monday for 12 weeks. 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. You must leave an email address to be entered into any of the drawings. And if you'd like more chances to win, visit other tour stops along Maggie's tour and leave comments there. 

Bio:
Maggie Jaimeson writes romantic women’s fiction and romantic suspense with a near future twist. She describes herself as a wife, a step-mother, a sister, a daughter, a teacher, and an IT administrator. By day she is “geek girl” – helping colleges to keep up with 21st century technology and provide distance learning options for students in rural areas. By night Maggie turns her thoughts to worlds she can control – worlds where bad guys get their comeuppance, women triumph over tragedy, and love can conquer all.

Healing Notes is the second book in the Sweetwater Canyon Series of four books.  The final two books will be available in 2013.

Welcome, Maggie. Please tell us about your current release.
Healing Notes is the second book in my Sweetwater Canyon series. The series follows an all women Americana band through their tours, their trials, and tribulations together and as each finds love. This is Rachel’s story, the fiddle player in the band.

In the previous book, Rachel was raped while the band is on tour. This was a huge blow to her as she partially blames herself. She had been quite promiscuous while trying to overcome the blow to her ego when her husband left her for another woman. The book explores her recovery from rape, and how she and the man she comes to love work through the questions surrounding that part of her life. To complicate matters, the man has a young daughter and his own baggage from his previous marriage that he is trying to balance with his feelings, his fears, and his prejudices about Rachel’s past.

What inspired you to write this book?
As I said, this is the second book in the series. When I wrote the first book, Undertones, I didn’t know that Rachel would be raped. When the scene came to me and I started writing it, I have to say it was as much a surprise to me as to my character. So, of course, I needed to resolve that and find a happily ever after for her. One of the main reasons I write romance is to prove that love conquers all and to have control over a world and relationships where no matter what happens, there is a way to find a happily ever after.

In terms of why rape, the antithesis of romance, even appeared in the first book, I suspect it is the expression of a fear that always lurks in the mind of many women. I come from a large extended family and more than 50% of the women in my family have been raped—some as children. When I was in my 30’s and divorced from my first husband, I was raped on a date. It was not nearly as horrific as what happened to my character, Rachel. But like Rachel, I still blamed myself. I asked myself what I did to deserve it. Unfortunately, I think it is also common for women to blame themselves no matter the circumstances. In my case I blamed myself for not seeing the signs, for being too trusting, for all kinds of reasons that had absolutely nothing to do with it.

Once I began writing Rachel’s story, I wanted to explore the question of why—even with all the progress we’ve made for women’s rights—we still today blame the victim. You are probably thinking: “Gosh, this sounds depressing.” Actually, I believe you will find Rachel’s story very uplifting. For it is when you overcome the longest odds and the deepest hurts that appreciate your happily ever after that much more. I know I do.

Here is an excerpt from later in the book. Rachel and Noel have been building up to the big sex scene for a long time. Noel has shared some of his past, secrets about his ex-wife and why he’s so protective of his daughter. It’s very late at night and, the sweet kiss goodbye before Rachel laves his house becomes really heated and begins to move to the next step. As clothes begin to come off, Noel’s daughter calls from her bedroom that she needs a drink of water.

            Noel came back into the living room and sat near her on the sofa. “I’m sorry, Rachel, I shouldn’t have let that go so far. This is exactly why we can’t spend too much time together.”
“Did you see me complaining?” she asked.
His lips curved up in a combination of non-repentant rake and wistful regret. “I can’t just sleep with you. I want to—oh, God, I want to—but I can’t do that to you, knowing you’ll be hurt in the end. I have a lot of need stored up and it’d be so easy to let it loose with you. But that would be all it is. I don’t have anything else to give.”
“I’m a big girl, Noel. Don’t you think I can make my own choice here? What if I’m willing to just be a friend and a lover, without the extra complications?”
Her heart beat double-time. She wanted more. Oh, God forgive her, she wanted the whole package even if she didn’t deserve it. But, for now, she would take whatever he was willing to give.
“Rachel, I can’t. For me it’s all or nothing. With Claire, I have to think that way.” She shook her head, unwilling to accept defeat. Before she could say anything, he put a finger to her mouth. “Suffice it to say that if you and I … had sex … it would be a relationship.”
She closed her eyes and took two deep breaths. No! She would convince him otherwise. She’d always been able to convince men to have a fling. She squared her shoulders and her breathing quickened. She wasn’t going to walk out of here in defeat, not when it was obvious he wanted her.
She stood in front of him, her teeth clenched. “What is it you were offering just a moment ago? Sex or love?” She leaned toward him, making sure he could see down the scoop neck of her shirt.
He smiled and sat back, wresting his eyes from the view. “Come on, Rachel. You know we both got carried away. Don’t make this a wrestling match neither one of us can feel good about.”
“If Claire hadn’t called, would you have gone all the way? Would you still be inside me now?”
He stared at her, then nodded, but he didn’t move even an inch toward her.
She straddled him on the sofa, her knees trapping his legs, her hands on each side of his shoulders. She leaned into him, her breasts grazing his mouth, and whispered into his ear with a sultry voice. “I want you. You want me. What’s wrong with giving each other pleasure? What’s wrong with helping each other forget the complications in our lives?” She ran her tongue along the inner flesh of his ear. He groaned. She nuzzled his neck and rained it with kisses.
“I can wait for another night, if you want. I can even wait until you get a babysitter for Claire and we meet somewhere else.” She lowered to his lap and moved against him, feeling the hardness build. “But there’s no reason for two adults who like each other not to help each other in this way. If it grows to something more, great. If not, we both entered into it willingly.” She looked into his eyes and could see the desire warring with something else.
He put his hands firmly at her waist and held her still. He brushed a kiss across her lips. “God, you drive me crazy.” He took a deep breath, then lifted her off him and stood, placing her feet safely on the ground a good foot away from him. “Rachel, it’s not you. It’s me. I just…can’t. I need…”
The words seemed to catch in his throat. He opened his mouth to complete the sentence, but he couldn’t. She saw him clamp down on the words and the thoughts. He stood, silent. Rachel felt that silence deep in her soul. How often had she wished for a good man? A man who could love her forever, and for a child, a daughter? Now, he was staring her right in the face and she couldn’t reach him. All the running she’d done. All that time trying to prove to herself that she was woman enough for any man.
She looked down. What did she think she was doing, coming on to him so strong? That was the exact wrong approach. That was her old M.O. wasn’t it? Exchange sex for love. Deep inside, she knew she could never hold on to love, so sex was what had kept her together.
Now that she’d found the right man, she wasn’t right for him. She never would be. In fact, if he knew about all that proving she’d done in her past, it would drive him even further away from her.
He reached for her hand. “I’m sorry.”
Her heart pounded. She felt his pain through her skin, like the drone of bagpipes at a funeral, the funeral of his soul. And it hurt so much she couldn’t move. She couldn’t find any words of comfort for either of them. She knew what it was like to feel completely abandoned, to wonder if it was something you did wrong. Drake had taught her that lesson when he raped her and left her to die. What Noel’s wife did was like that—a rape of his soul, and with Rachel he feared for his daughter’s soul.
Noel let go of her hand and her heart dropped. She wanted him. She wanted Claire and she didn’t know how she could make it right.
She stared at Noel, begging him to say something. Do something. He looked away, no longer able to meet her eyes.
“This isn’t over,” she said. “I’m not Clarissa. I admit I have my problems, but I’m not selfish and I don’t offer myself lightly. Well at least not anymore.” She walked to the kitchen, her spine straight, and slung her purse over her shoulder. She returned to stand only a few inches from him. “I love Claire. I’ve loved her since the moment I first saw her. I would never hurt her.” She bent forward and brushed her lips on his cheek. “Or you.”
She turned and let herself out the door.


What exciting story are you working on next?
I have three projects I’m working on right now. One is I’m completing the Sweetwater Canyon series. The next book, Heartstrings, is Sarah’s story and the complete opposite of Rachel. Sarah has been the sweet one in the band—the one that everyone is convinced is a 29 year old virgin. That is scheduled for release in July 2013. The final book of the series, Two Voices, is Kat and Theresa’s story. As they are mother and daughter I had to write their story together, and I had to wait until Kat was an adult. The final book is scheduled for release in November 2013.

I’ve also just completed a YA Fantasy novel that is the first in a series, under the name of Maggie Faire. This is my first YA novel and I have to say I absolutely loved writing it and I want to spend a long time in the world I built there. It’s being shopped to publishers right now, so I don’t know yet what will happen with it or when it will come out.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
There have been different times in my life when I thought of myself as a writer. In High School and into my early 20’s I regularly wrote poetry. The few I had published garnered me attention at least among my friends and family. But it was not a way to make a living. In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s I started writing and selling short stories, primarily to SF markets. But after a couple of years I stopped, again wondering why I was wasting time on something that could never be a career. For the next decade, I did write but it was non-fiction. I did publish four non-fiction books during that time. It was on my 50th birthday that I gave myself permission to truly be the fiction writer and follow my dream. I vowed that I would not stop this time, that I would make it a career. That was when I began writing novels.

For eight years I wrote late at night, on weekends, on planes when I traveled on business. I squeezed writing into my 50+ hour work week as an academic administrator. In that time I completed eight novels. Four of them have now been published. The other four will never be published because they simply aren’t good enough and I have no desire to go back and redo them. Though I’ve always known that one part of myself was a writer. I now see myself as a committed fiction writer. I think that’s the big difference.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I have been a full-time writer since this past September and I can tell you it is such a feeling of freedom. I have written more words the best two months, than in the past two years. It really does make a difference in my production. It’s also been such a blessing to have time to connect with other writers, to keep up on my blog and to keep up with my readers.

It took me a couple of months to slow down and change my 50+ hour per week pace. I was very focused on finishing my YA novel before the end of the year and getting it out so I just delved in and wrote all the time. However, I now have a more sane plan. That up at 6:30 or 7:00am and have breakfast. I get to my computer about 8:00-8:30am and do writing-related things. That might be research, email, social media, etc. Do some type of exercise from 10am to 11am. I’m still settling in on what that looks like. Right now it is Zumba DVDs.

Then I write from 11am until about 6pm straight with a 30 minute break around 3pm for an afternoon snack. At 6pm I take a break, help my husband with dinner (he’s the cook in the family), and spend some time with him. I usually return to the computer about 9pm to review what I wrote that day, do some editing or make notes about what I want to work on the next day when I’m fresh. I’m in bed by midnight.

This is my schedule five days a week. On the weekends I may get in another four to five hours of writing time, depending on what things my husband and I have scheduled to do. I also spend some time on the weekends catching up on TV programs I recorded during the week.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
The one that would drive people crazy if they sat near me, is that I talk to myself the entire time I write. I say the words I’m writing as I type them. I think there are two reasons for that. One, is that I’ve always been an auditory learner and so, when I’m developing a story, saying the words makes it stay in my mind. Second, I’ve come to believe that saying the words as I type also helps me to hear the rhythm of my sentences and to judge if the dialog is working.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
My ideas changed from doctor to dancer to astronaut and musician depending on what was going on in my life at the time and what caught my interest. I had a very fortunate childhood. As the oldest of nine children, I always had playmates and among us we had lots of chums in the neighborhood. I also lived only four blocks from the elementary school. In those days schools still provided free summer programs like tap, ballet, jazz, various sports, chorus, and free band or orchestra, as well as general neighborhood social opportunities. Without those programs I would have never experienced any of those things, as my family would not have been able to afford lessons for any of us.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Thank you so much for having me on your blog today. I love the opportunity to meet readers and to talk books. I’m a rabid reader myself. I read about 100 novels a year, so talking books and finding out from others what are some great stories they’d recommend always makes me happy.

Ways to connect with me:

You're welcome, Maggie. Thanks for being here.

Readers, remember, 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. You must leave an email address to be entered into any of the drawings. And if you'd like more chances to win, visit other tour stops along Maggie's tour and leave comments there. 

Buy links:
For ebooks:
Nook  
Kobo 

For print books:
Amazon  



19 comments:

Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thank you for hosting today.

Lena said...

I'm just starting with Zumba, is there a workout that you especiall like and would recommend?

Is there something in particular that you would like to write about but haven't yet?

lennascloud(at)gmail(dot)com

Ingeborg said...

I can't imagine how you worked a
50+ hour work week and wrote eight novels. That's incredible.

Kit3247(at)aol(dot)com

Ami said...

I agree working so much and having time to write so many novels is impressive. How did you find the time?

shadowrunner1987 AT gmail DOT com

MomJane said...

This story sounds sweet and sensitive.

Maggie Jaimeson said...

Thank you so much for hosting me, Lisa! The interview really made me think.

Lena, I bought the Exhilerate set. So far, I've only managed to do the beginner step-by-step and some of the Activate DVD. I'm REALLY out of shape, so it's slow going. The best thing is you can stop and take a breather and then start up again at your own pace.

Ingeborg and Ami, finding the time was a matter of desire. A lot of late nights and weekends where I did nothing but write. My plan was to build my readership while still working so that I could retire and have a built in income. I didn't quite make it to my planned retirement age, but I look at this time as a blessing in providing me FT writing while not quite of retirement age.

MomJane, the story is sweet in the good triumphs over evil way, and the little girl. However, it is not sweet in the sexiness. So, if you are looking for a "no sex" story this wouldn't be for you.

Thanks everyone for stopping by and commenting.

Anna Brwentwood said...

I am always amazed by my most prolific authors friends who manage to produce such great finished works and "do it all" while doing it! You are always an inspiration and I look forward to reading your newest works.

TeriBrownwrites said...

This was an amazing story!

Paty Jager said...

Hi Maggie! I enjoyed Healing Notes and need to get the first book. I see you sit in front of the computer as much as I do!

Good luck with fulfilling your goals for the next books.

Terri Reed said...

Maggie you awe and inspire! Great interview.

let it be said...

Really enjoyed reading this interview. Thanks for sharing!
oddball2003 at hotmail dot com

Collette Cameron said...

Wow, Maggie, 50+ hours and you still found time to write? I knew you were superwoman!

Loved the excerpt!

Catherine Lee said...

How awful that rape has been so prevalent in your family. I think it's a difficult topic to deal with in a novel. It must be dealt with sensitively.
catherinelee100 at gmail dot com

Genene Valleau, writing as Genie Gabriel said...

Hi, Maggie! Very emotional excerpt. I'm looking forward to reading this and the rest of the series!

Maggie Jaimeson said...

To all my writer pals: Anna, Teri, Paty, Terri, Collette, Genene. As Anna writes in her roaring 20's novel, "You are all the bees knees!" Thank you for stopping by.

Catherine, it is sad but unfortunately not as unusual as you may think. Statistics say 1 in 4 women are raped or molested in this country. In many families, rape is not discussed with others and often not reported because of the legal requirements to press a case. Some of my family members situations I didn't even know about until they were into their 40's and shared their story or their children's story.

I believe I handled it sensitively in my book, but that is for readers to judge. As much as shining a light on the problem, I also wanted readers to know--and victims to know--that recovery is possible and each of us are more than our pasts. If we let the evil that is in our past dictate our happiness then evil wins. I wanted to be sure that didn't happen in my story, or in my personal life, or in the life of those I personally know who have been victims.

Mary Preston said...

I was not aware that HEALING NOTES is the second book in a series. I must read the first to catch up.

1 in 4 is horrific.

marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

Maggie Jaimeson said...

Mary, Of course you must read the first one too. :) Thanks for stopping by.

Maggie Jaimeson said...

Thanks for a great stop. In the New Year, I decided to giveaway an autographed cover flat for Healing Notes to anyone who comments at my tour stops. So, if you are interested in having one, please send me an email at maggie@maggiejaimeson.com with your mailing address. If you want it endorsed to you, also please tell me the spelling of your name. I'll get it in the mail to you within three days of the receipt of your email.

Thanks for a great stop!

Maggie Jaimeson said...

Congratulations to Rita Wray, commenter #78 for winning the reader $25 giftcard in this tour.

Thanks to everyone for a wonderful tour of Healing Notes. I very much appreciate all of your support!