Thursday, August 29, 2013

Combining Blogs -- Coming Out

In the "old days" of publishing--three our four years ago--it was common and often expected to have a different pseudonym for each genre.  Then you were expected to maintain two different personas and all the social media surrounding that.  As most everyone who follows my books and posts knows, I write my romances under the name Maggie Jaimeson and my Young Adult Fantasy under the name Maggie Faire.  Then for those who have known me in my academic career, you also know I have written non-fiction under my given name, Maggie McVay Lynch.  My first non-fiction title since leaving academia will be coming out in September.  DIY Publishing: A guide to ebook and print formatting and distribution.

For years I have been maintaining the non-fiction and Jaimeson name separately.  Since publishing the fantasy titles, I was also maintaining the Maggie Faire name separately.  Each of these had separate Facebook pages, separate Twitter accounts, and separate Blogs.

In the new world, where 1/2 a million books are being put out each year and book titles stay around forever because of digital availability, having separate names and separate identities everywhere is difficult to keep up.  So, I have decided to combine my social media places into one account and to come out of the closet, so to speak, with all three of my names.

The first step in that combing social media process is combining my Maggie Faire and Maggie Jaimeson blogs.So, you will see I have merged my Maggie Faire blog postings into Maggie's Meanderings.  Now you will be seeing both postings here. Moving forward, I will only be posting to this blog and my guest posts at the Windtree Press blog.

I hope this will also makes it easier for my readers.  I will not be combining the names and redoing all my books with one name. I still think there are some YA readers who don't want to accidentally pick up a romance and some romance readers who don't want to accidentally pick up a YA Fantasy series.  So, you can still count on the name for the genre you like. However, I will be including all three names in information about the books so people can find me in whatever way is easiest.

Over the next couple of months you will see a new website for all three names and I'll be cutting my twitter and Facebook accounts back to single accounts as well. I hope you will all follow me.  Let me know how you feel about this so I can make the transition as easy as possible for all my readers and fans.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Introverts Unite!


Hanna over at Excelsior Lady—an introvert herself — created this badge. I thought it would make a great meme badge.


I've known all my life that I was an introvert and, thank goodness, I've never thought it was a bad thing. In fact, I think my introverted qualities have done well for me in my careers.

Anyway, I found a really nice article in the Huffington Post. It's the only popular news article I've ever read to describe the qualities of an introvert in a more positive light. I was disturbed to learn that there was a time psychiatry considered labeling introverts as mentally ill.  Really? A lot of psychologists and psychiatrists are introverts. Self flaggelation anyone?

As a lot of readers and writers are introverts, I thought it might be great to discuss this or to do an Introvert Meme on various blogs. If you want to declare you are an introvert and proud of it, feel free to participate. Pick Up the pic in this blog, read the article, and give a brief description of how you fit or don't fit within the 23 points.  Here is mine below.

1. You find small talk incredibly cumbersome.  
I do. I know it's necessary to break the ice, particularly with people I don't know, but I never focus on that stuff because it's rarely authentic.  Really, when someone says "How are you doing?" How often do you say, "Actually, I'm having a rough day. It started with..."  Almost no one does that! Why? Because they know in social situations that "How are you doing?" Isn't really an authentic question. The expectations is "Fine." Then you talk about your job, your kids, your house, car.  Surprisingly, everything there is "fine" or "better than fine" there too.

I'm combining a bunch into the next bit. 2. You go to parties -– but not to meet people.  3. You Feel alone in a crowd. 5. You are often called "too intense." 6. You're easily distracted.
19. You don't feel "high" from your surrounding.
I'm taking these together because they all have the same foundation for me. Beause of #1, you can see I'm already at a disadvantage at a party. I really dislike parties in general because they are far too over stimulating (distracting)--the noise, the colors, the movements, the inability to go in depth on any conversations.

At parties, the way I cope is by finding groups of only one or two people, where I can follow a single conversation and engage for awhile. In college, I was known as the girl in the corner talking with two or three people all night. I didn't have to know them in advance, I just needed to concentrate on a smaller group and I needed to engage in a deeper level. I can move from one group to another, but I tend to stay longer and talk longer in each small group. Then I move to the next group.

For the same reason, I hate sitting at a great big table with 14 other people who are all talking at once, because I don't know where to focus.  Even if I decide to focus on the two or three near me, the other conversations sneak in and distract me to the point of being exhausting. All of these reasons lead to me feeling alone in a crowd because I don't feel I'm connecting sufficiently, really getting to know people, and it is literally energy draining for me.  My perfect party is up to six people (eight on the outside) with a common interest, working toward common goals, and equally committed. Yeah, I know "too intense." :)

4. Networking makes you feel like a phony.
Yup. The whole concept of getting to know someone just so you can get something out of them is horrific to me. Also why a sales career has never been a choice. Instead, I work on the Karma principle. I do things for people that I think they may need/want, but with no expectations of getting anything back. It seems that other people do that too, because I've been the fortunate recipient of lots of help throughout my life--some from people I did help, but often from people I didn't do things for. I'm not sure how the universal Karma jar works, but it seems to work great for me.

7. Downtime doesn’t feel unproductive to you.
Absolutely right. I crave downtime, and when I don't get it I become rather difficult to live with. Fortunately, my husband completely understands this. 

8. Giving a talk in front of 500 people is less stressful than having to mingle with those people afterwards. (This also goes with 10. You start to shut down after you’ve been active for too long.
When I worked in the software industry, I used to go to user conferences where I would give a talk to 2,000+ people in a room. It never bothered me. I thought about it in advance, I prepared for it, and I felt good about what I was saying because it was like teaching. Same with my teaching career and my management career.  However, ask me to then to meet and greets in a big hall with all those people. Not fun. (see #1-6 above).  Of course, I was required to do this at these conferences. So, I had a deal with my boss. I'd do it for 2 hours, then I was done. No drinking and dancing with customers afterward. No, schmoozing in the lounge. I would do the small talk, meet and greet for two hours only. That was my limit. (I think it still is my limit) Then I would go back to my room and crash.

9. When you get on the subway, you sit at the end of the bench -– not in the middle.  
This one doesn't apply. Most of the time I don't have a choice where to sit. But I cope with this by always having a book to read. I can zone out everyone around me with a good book.

11. You're in a relationship with an extrovert. Nope. My husband is an introvert and an iconoclast. Always interesting and he understand me perfectly.  I've dated extroverts in the past. They were fun for awhile, but ultimately exhausting.

12-15, 17, and 21  didn't really apply to me.

16. You have a constantly running inner monologue.  Yes. I'm always evaluating the past, present, and future in terms of what I'm hearing, learning, and doing. I've tried to shut it off, but I can't. It's just who I am. Fortunately, some people think that's cool. I've also fooled them into thinking I'm wise. (see # 18. You’ve been called an “old soul” -– since your 20s.)

20. You look at the big picture. Yes, this is me in every aspect of my life AND in my writing. I think in abstracts, rather than details.  I can do details. I've trained myself to do it, but I don't enjoy it. To me the whole world is one big system, and every part of it effects every other part. I can't stop and analyze one part/section out of context with the whole system. Of course, thinking this way also means you never have a 100% right answer to anything which can be frustrating to many people.

Also, I DON'T think this is a quality of all introverts. I personally doubt it is related to introversion or extroversion. I think it is a separate part of personality that can work with both.

22. You’re a writer.  Duh! :)  However, again I don't think this career choice is only for introverts. I know a number of writers who are extroverts and I love their books.

I think most authors' writing fits the Karma principle because you are writing in the hopes that what you write helps people, moves people, entertains people. In other words, it gives them something they need. That is certainly why I write. My non-fiction books are teaching books. They teach the reader how to do something, to accomplish something. My fiction books are similar in that they are sharing how my characters overcome difficult circumstances/issues on their own initiative and--because they are good people--find their happily-ever-after or happy-for-now in life.  And the Karma coming back is the sales of the book. If the book offers enough of what people need, it sells well.

23. You alternate between phases of work and solitude, and periods of social activity. 
Yes, and, for me, each phase is "intense" and probably over the top (except the social activity part). When I'm working it is all encompassing, and when I'm in recovery (solitude) it is all encompassing. My social activity is more around sharing things we learn. Because I don't have to do small talk social stuff anymore, I don't socialize just for socializing sake.

So that's me. How about you? Want to join the meme? Let me know where you blog your responses and I'll come visit, tweet, FB (yeah, I know that's kind of social isn't it).  Don't want to do your own blog post? Fine, leave a comment or not.  I know you understand anyway.











Friday, August 23, 2013

Is Sex Important in Today's Romance Novels?

How important are the sex scenes in today's romance novel? By the continued success of books like Fifty Shades and the copycats one would think it's pretty important.  Erotica and romances with very explicit sex continue to sell very well.  On the other hand, Inspirational Romance with no sex continues to sell well too. Then there are the majority of romance novels which are somewhere between those two ends of the continuum.

This is an age old question and there are readers on both sides.  Also, depending on genre, there are rules.  Inspirational romances concentrate on the relationship to God as an integral part of the romantic relationship, so no sex. Certain category lines, like Harlequin Romance and Harlequin American Romance are considered "sweet" meaning no sex or behind closed doors.  Then there is what appears to be the majority of romance novels, which are in the definitely sex on the page but ranges from a focus on feelings and euphemistic language to a more descriptive focus on action and body parts that create the action.

There is no doubt that sex is an integral part to marriage and to long term romantic relationships. Though there are perfectly happy relationships where sex is non-existent or very infrequent. Hmmm...I wonder if I could write that story?  Maybe.

I have to be honest and say I've always struggled with writing the sex scenes in my romance novels. Part of that is probably a reflection of my upbringing (no one ever talked about it); and part of that is a desire to make it truly a part of building the relationship and the trust, and the respect required in a long term romantic partner and a fulfilling sexual relationship.

In the first two books of my Sweetwater Canyon series, both of my heroines had issues with sex--one from an abusive previous relationship, the other from a rape.  Both heroines needed to get past these issues to be in a permanent relationship. It made sense to me that the way the sexual relationship progressed was important to both heroines believing they could successfully marry and live happil-ever-after. Because of their pasts, I also felt it was important to include descriptive sex scenes that built that trust and showed the sexual relationship purely in terms of love and permanence.

Now, I am finishing up the third book in my Sweetwater Canyon series. In this one, the sexual relationship is VERY different. This one is Sarah's story and she is a devout Christian. If you've read the first two books you already know that Sarah appears to be the more conservative one of the band, and she is also the more quiet. She never understood Rachel's ease with sex, and she questions the belief of others in the importance of having sex before marriage. Because of Sarah's beliefs there will be no sex in this book.  That doesn't mean there will be no sexual tension. There will be plenty, and she will question her beliefs as they seem to come in conflict with the man she falls in love with. But just like the previous two heroines, in this case Sarah must come to sex on her own terms or she will not trust the partnership.

As with my first two books, where I struggled to write the sex scenes and keep them true to the characters. In this book, I have frequently questioned myself around keeping the sex scenes out. After all, I know a lot of Christians who had sex before marriage and had no problems squaring it with their faith. I wonder if my readers will find Sarah's choices unbelievable in this day and age.

In the end I've decided to stay true to the story and to trust the readers. If they have followed the Sweetwater Canyon band this far, they already know I don't write the "usual" romance book. Because I DO believe sex is important in a romantic relationship, I also believe it is fraught with peril. The importance a woman puts on it can lead to all kinds of decisions that may not be good for her or the relationship in the long term. I think each woman comes into a sexual relationship in a different way, and must carry with her the background, cultural norms, and beliefs she's experienced in her life. To stray from that because "everyone else thinks you should" only makes the experience worse.  No two of us make the same decisions. Frequently, even the same person doesn't make the same decisions. The way one feels about sex at age 20, and marrying a high school sweetheart, may be very different at age 40 after a divorce and returning to the dating world.

Heart Strings, Sarah's Story, will be out in Fall. I hope you will join me in the continuing lives of the women of Sweetwater Canyon. And I'd love to hear your feedback about Sarah's choices once you've read the book.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Give Books for Kids and Teens

NOTE: This is a duplicate post to the one I put on my Maggie's Meanderings blog last week. I just wanted to make sure all my readers and other authors, who only see this blog, access the wonderful work of Dawn Lowery and Wee Care Community Outreach.

As an author and an educator I sometimes take literacy for granted. I was blessed from early age with a grandmother who loved to read and every Christmas I saw books under the tree.  My father also loved stories and enjoyed writing (though he never published his writing).  I've been a reader as long as I can remember and a storyteller since I could first form words.

The Romance Writers of America take literacy very seriously.  At every national conference, the profits from book sales at the author signing (usually more than 500 authors are signing) go to literacy.  Many local chapters do something similar.  My own chapter used to have a literacy fundraiser in the form of a luncheon.

So, it was with great happiness that I recently learned of a special person on Goodreads. I was running a giveaway of my YA Fantasy books under the Maggie Faire name. One of the entrants wrote me to let me know she was hoping to win.  But the reason was not only to read my books; it was because she and her family have founded a community outreach program for poor families in Georgia where they help people of all ages learn to read and/or improve their reading.  Every book she wins, or buys, or receives as a gift goes to the center's library.  They want to have a large variety of books so they can always find something of interest to the new or expanding reader.

Well, she didn't win my giveaway but, after researching her organization (which is an official IRS Non profit) I knew I would send her copies of my books.  I am hoping that those who see my post here will also do the same.


Donated books can be sent to:

Wee Care Community Outreach
C/O Dawn Lowery
3985 Shelton Drive
Resaca, Georgia  30735

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Gift of Literacy

As an author and an educator I sometimes take literacy for granted. I was blessed from early age with a grandmother who loved to read and every Christmas I saw books under the tree.  My father also loved stories and enjoyed writing (though he never published his writing).  I've been a reader as long as I can remember and a storyteller since I could first form words.

The Romance Writers of America take literacy very seriously.  At every national conference, the profits from book sales at the author signing (usually more than 500 authors are signing) go to literacy.  Many local chapters do something similar.  My own chapter used to have a literacy fundraiser in the form of a luncheon.

So, it was with great happiness that I recently learned of a special person on Goodreads. I was running a giveaway of my YA Fantasy books under the Maggie Faire name. One of the entrants wrote me to let me know she was hoping to win.  But the reason was not only to read my books; it was because she and her family have founded a community outreach program for poor families in Georgia where they help people of all ages learn to read and/or improve their reading.  Every book she wins, or buys, or receives as a gift goes to the center's library.  They want to have a large variety of books so they can always find something of interest to the new or expanding reader.

Well, she didn't win my giveaway but, after researching her organization (which is an official IRS Non profit) I knew I would send her copies of my books.  I am hoping that those who see my post here will also do the same.


Donated books can be sent to:

Wee Care Community Outreach
C/O Dawn Lowery
3985 Shelton Drive
Resaca, Georgia  30735

The Best Me Ever

One of the things that authors have to do is to put their face out there.  It goes on your website, on your facebook page, on your twitter account, on your blog, sometimes in the newspaper, and even on the back of your book or the inside of your book.  In other words, it is in so many places that if you don't love your headshot you can get depressed about your looks pretty fast.

I don't know about you, but I have always had things about my body I don't like.  As I've gotten older, I've accepted a lot of things about my looks, my wrinkles, the little bits of grey in my hair and of course my girth.  So, when I went to the photographers to get a new headshot I had to decide if I wanted to be me or someone else.  I wanted to be me, but the very best me possible.  I think the photographers did that in this, one of my favorites of the pictures they took. In the larger version you can still see a few wrinkles, the sprinkling of grey, the fold in the neck but they did smooth my skin tones.

Some women--even those who are thin and beautiful--look in the mirror and see fat and ugly.  I'm the opposite. I'm heavy and have all the things that come along with aging, but when I look in the mirror I see a younger, thinner, prettier person.  Most of the time I still see that 28 year old who is inside me. Why 28? I have no idea. I think because it was a time when I was in good shape and felt the most physically confident--not psychologically confident but physically.

When I try to describe this phenomenon to people, some say I'm simply in denial. Others don't believe me. I'm not in denial, if I look hard I see the "real" physical me. But I don't spend a lot of time in front of the mirror, fussing. And I don't bother with looking at every detail that is not perfect. I've never been perfect. So, I really do see the person inside me manifested on the outside with only slight changes.  Weird?

The only time it's a real problem is when I go shopping and pick out a cute size 12 outfit. I get to the dressing room and I'm temporarily shocked I don't fit into it. (Now that's not really true. I know better than that. But I do have a problem picking out sizes that are too small).  The other time I'm pulled back to reality is if I get on a scale (try not to do that much) or when I'm walking beside people who are actually 28 and fit and beautiful. Of course, to me they look they are in high school. It's all relative. :)

Do you have an age you think of for yourself on the inside? If so, what age is it?  If you are a young person, how do you feel about body? Are you comfortable with it, no matter what size you are?


Friday, August 2, 2013

I'm a Grandma! I'm a Grandma!

Our first grandchild was born yesterday at 12:05pm, in Alexandria, Virginia.  A healthy baby boy weighing8 lbs 2 ozs.

I am gobsmacked!  I was never able to have children of my own and, in my 40's, had given up on the idea of having children or grandchildren. But when I met and married my husband, I had the joy of also getting two step-sons in high school.

So, not only did I have the opportunity to help raise two wonderful young men, but now I am blessed with a grandchild as well.

Life has a beautiful way of working out.  I will get to greet the new baby in October, when we travel east for our younger son's wedding.  I can hardly wait!