GUEST BLOG and Giveaway: Maggie Jaimeson

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. 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.

How to Handle Criticism (Defeating the Urge to Please Everyone)
Here’s a secret about me. I’m a pleaser. Not only that, in the past I could have won a trophy for being a world class pleaser. Yup. I think it’s my job to make sure any person I come into contact with, no matter the circumstance is happy. Believe me this is not a sane way to live your life.

I know I’m not the only one with this problem. It seems that it is a type of virus particularly visited on women, though I do know a few men infected with it too. It affects every part of my life, especially how I react to criticism. It wasn’t until I hit 40 years old that I finally figured out, and somewhat accepted, that I will NEVER please everyone about anything. At the same time I also had to accept that I will NEVER please anyone I care about all of the time. Both of these were big time, breathless “Aha” moments. But even with that knowledge and hard-won acceptance, I still have that kneejerk reaction of “It’s all my fault and I have to change something to make that person happy.” In other words I backslide on a regular basis and have to rebuild my confidence each time.

Given that I’m a pleaser, choosing to be a writer was not the easiest path to follow. But then, everyone knows I just don’t do easy. Writers face criticism every day of their life. It begins with myself—constantly questioning if I know what I’m doing and if I’m good enough. Then it moves to my wonderful critique partners whose job it is to tell me all the things that are wrong with my idea, approach, character motivation, scene structure, and overall book. Then when I start sending a novel out for publication, I get rejections also telling me that it doesn’t work for that editor. (The form rejections are the worst because I can write an entire novel about reading between the lines to figure out what they “really” mean.) Then when a publisher finally acquires my novel, my editor’s job is to once again discover all the problems it has. Finally, when the book is out in the marketplace, readers and reviewers tell me everything they don’t like about it.

So, how does one get through life with so much negativity? You’re going to think I’m crazy, or Polly Anna, but my answer is to focus on the positive. Really! You see in all the examples I gave above I only talked about the criticism. Focusing only on the negative does nothing except make me helpless. What I didn’t talk about was all the things that went right along the way. Let’s look at the list.

  1. I finished writing a novel. (Yea me!)
  2. I had the guts to share it with a fellow writer who I knew would find something wrong. (Courageous!)
  3. My critique partners actually love my novels and every piece of criticism they give me is to make it better—not to tear it down. (They love me. The really love me!)
  4. A publisher bought it. That means an editor reacted positively to it. (I’m on the brink of fame!)
  5. The editor actually loves it, and every piece of criticism she gives me is to make it better—not to tear it down. (My editor wants me to be a NYT bestseller. Really!)
  6. I regularly get emails from readers telling me why they love my books and what it means to them to empathize with my characters. (Note: I’m knocking on wood now) So far, the majority of my reviews say many good things even if they find something they didn’t like. (Okay, I’m not famous. But I’m working on it. Yeah!)
  7. Even my family and best friends like my novels—though some skip the sex scenes. Believe me, my family would tell me if they didn’t think it was good. (Yea. My family hasn’t abandoned me!)

So, this brings me full circle. Handling criticism starts with a positive attitude. The most important step is to believe that anyone who is critical is doing it to make me better—a better writer, a better person. The next step is to repeat the mantra, “I can’t please everyone all the time.” The reality is there will always be a critique partner, an editor, a friend, a reader who just won’t like something. Don’t focus on the outliers. Don’t focus on the one critique partner out of five who hated that your book was set in Ireland instead of Scotland. Don’t focus on the one reader out of 200 who had a brother just like your hero and knows that he would never do what your hero did on page 183. Focus on the majority of opinion. If four reviewers out ten are saying your heroine lacks motivation, then maybe that is something to consider. But if it’s one and the rest loved your book, just repeat “I can’t please everyone all the time.”

Yes, there are a few people I’ve encountered in life who do seem to make it a personal mission to tear me down and to build him or herself up. All I can say is: “God Bless Them. I hope they find their own happiness one day.” What I’ve learned is that the people who really care about me, who get me, and love me—even when I’m not perfect and even when I don’t please them all of the time—are the people who matter the most. I’ve also learned that the readers who love my books far outnumber the few who don’t. I wish everyone did love my books, but (repeat after me now). “I can’t please anyone all of the time.”

I’ve also learned that being a pleaser isn’t all bad. It does drive me to be a better person, a better worker, a better writer. But, like everything in life, it needs to be in moderation and I need to be cognizant of how it affects my judgment and my actions. In this process I’ve been forced to give up my world class pleaser trophy. I’ve managed to drop back to being primarily a localized pleaser (meaning everyone at work, school, in any organization I volunteer for, at church, and of course in my writing). I’m still working on being only a mother, father, sibling, relatives, husband, children and Maggie pleaser. It’s a life long process with good days and bad days. Best part is, it still hasn’t stopped me from moving forward.

About the Author: 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.

Find Maggie online at

Website: http://maggiejaimeson.com

Blog: http://maggiemeandering.blogspot.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Maggie-Jaimeson/118916694787820

Twitter: @maggiejaimeson

Forgiving yourself is the first step, but helping others forgive may be just too hard.
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.

Friday Spotlight: Maggie Jaimeson

Guns and Roses

One of my favorite western movies is High Noon with Gary Cooper and Grace Kelley. It is loosely based on the short story, The Tin Star, by John Cunningham. The dilemma of that movie is a similar dilemma in many romantic suspense novels. That is: What do you give up to get the bad guy? What do you give up to protect someone else? And when one participates in violence—even to protect self or others—does it have a long term effect on one’s psyche or one’s soul?

Throughout human history, violence has been a part of most people lives in some way. Whether because of wars or criminal activity, no one escapes violence completely. In our own home this was driven home by our oldest son who did two tours in Iraq as a Marine, and our youngest son who is a police officer. My husband served in Senegal and Rwanda when he was with the State Department, and every time we hear about wars and genocide in Africa he wonders if those families he knew are safe.

All the romantic suspense novels I’ve read have some element of violence in them. I love reading romantic suspense, yet I personally abhor violence. I think I love seeing the bad guy get his comeuppance. On the other hand, the thought of me personally killing someone—even in self-defense—is truly frightening. How do we reconcile the opposing ideals of a hate for violence with a desire to protect those we love and to see justice done?

I don’t have answers to the questions. It is a struggle I may never completely resolve. These are important questions which shape politics, religion, and our daily lives. I think it is important to realize that our heroes—military personnel, police officers, firemen, doctors—face these questions all the time. Though we may hail them for their bravery and their courage, we need to also remember they are human with human fears, human responses, and the same moral dilemmas. We need to listen and help uphold their psyches and their souls.

My novel, Expendable, has a sub-theme that explores this very dilemma. Each main character is exposed to violence—the hero, the heroine, and the child. Each character handles it in a different way. It is the miracle of love and family that allows them to be different and yet together. It is the miracle of love and family that helps each one of them to heal.

By day Maggie Jaimeson embraces the moniker “geek girl.” As an IT administrator and teacher she works to keep a college ensconced in the 21st century with both state-of-the-art technology and a variety of distance learning initiatives. At night she spends time in a world of romantic suspense and romantic women’s fiction, putting her characters through tortuous self-revelation, giving villains their comeuppance, and ensuring happily ever afters. She and her husband live in the Pacific Northwest and still enjoy exploring the natural beauty God has provided.

Website: http://maggiejaimeson.com
Publisher: http://thewildrosepress.com
Facebook fan page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Maggie-Jaimeson/118916694787820
Twitter: http://twitter.com/maggiejaimeson

Thursday Spotlight: Maggie Jaimeson

Romance and Sex

Every romance writer gets the sex question at some point. The two most common I’ve been asked are: Why has the romance genre changed to include a lot more sex? Don’t you worry about what your mother, grandmother, children, pastor (take your pick) might think of you?

The reason I include sex in my novels is because it’s important to the development of the plot, the characters AND the romance. Let’s face it, there are very few people in the world who purposefully enter into a romantic relationship without an expectation of sex. More than that, with the openness about the sexual experience in our society, there is an expectation of great sex. What could be more important than writing about the most intimate relationship we all want to have, but spend our entire lives trying to get right? So, let me briefly answer the two questions.

Why has the romance genre changed to include a lot more sex? Fiction tends to reflect the times we are in. My 14 and 15 year old nieces and nephews know more about sex and its variety than I did after five years of my first marriage. The acceptance and easy discussion of sex today is very different than it was when I was growing up. In today’s world, it seems unnatural to write a book where the romance is central and not have the protagonists having sex. Certainly, the description can vary from mere suggestion (they walk into the bedroom and close the door) to graphic detail (erotica). My books are somewhere in the middle between those two ends of the continuum. Most reviewers would call them “hot” –the typical sensuality level of today’s romances.

Don’t you worry about what your mother, grandmother, children, pastor (take your pick) might think of you? I’ll admit that when I wrote my first sex scene, I was definitely embarrassed at the thought of who might read it and what that person might say to me or ask me. I was brought up in a household where sex was never discussed. Consequently, for me to even find the right words to describe the scene was difficult. However, as I’ve grown in my writing and in my understanding of my characters, these scenes have become easier for me to write. In a real life romance, the progress of the sexual relationship is often a marker of turning points in the love relationship. True intimacy requires both partners to trust, to let go, to share power and control. The sexual relationship in a romance is one of many important metaphors which help to explore the progress of true intimacy which is trust and love. By the way, my pastor assures me she has sex too, so not to worry. 🙂

By day Maggie Jaimeson embraces the moniker “geek girl.” As an IT administrator and teacher she works to keep a college ensconced in the 21st century with both state-of-the-art technology and a variety of distance learning initiatives. At night she spends time in a world of romantic suspense and romantic women’s fiction, putting her characters through tortuous self-revelation, giving villains their comeuppance, and ensuring happily ever afters. She and her husband live in the Pacific Northwest and still enjoy exploring the natural beauty God has provided.

Website: http://maggiejaimeson.com
Publisher: http://thewildrosepress.com
Facebook fan page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Maggie-Jaimeson/118916694787820
Twitter: http://twitter.com/maggiejaimeson

Wednesday Spotlight: Maggie Jaimeson

Second Chance Love and a Scottish Wedding

I love wedding stories, don’t you? Today, I’m going to share my own wedding story and link to a picture or two.

My husband and I met through mutual interest in writing. He has been a freelance writer and editor for two decades. His specialty is history, with an emphasis on Military History. However, he has edited textbooks in foreign language (he speaks several languages), math, and a variety of social studies, and written on a variety of topics from golf to home improvement. When we connected, I was writing my first textbook on distance learning and needed an editor. Little did we know our mutual interest would bloom into love.

Just like many romance novels, both of us were careful about entering into a new relationship. I truly believed that “good” people married only once and stayed together forever. The fact that I was divorced made me question what was wrong with me and second guess my growing romantic feelings. My husband had two children from his previous marriage. So, he was not anxious to introduce any woman into his children’s lives who may not be permanent.

Our initial dates consisted of day hikes, dinners out, and movies. We then progressed to weekend camping, staying in lodges over long weekends, and finally we overcame our reluctance to marry again. The problem in proposing a wedding site was that my family and friends all lived on the west coast. His family and friends all lived on the east coast. So we decided to have a wedding that was private and meaningful for just the two of us. After some research, we decided to combine our honeymoon and wedding in Dunoon, Scotland. We are both of Scottish and Irish descent. Our honeymoon began in the highlands of Scotland, and then continued the highlands of Ireland.

It was the best decision for the two of us. We had a unique ceremony that was meaningful to us. We honored our individual and joint heritage, and we had a wonderful honeymoon with memories that will last us a lifetime. I was able to be a step-mother to two wonderful boys, who are now amazing young men. And I found a love to with which to spend the rest of my life.

Here are some pictures for you to enjoy.

By day Maggie Jaimeson embraces the moniker “geek girl.” As an IT administrator and teacher she works to keep a college ensconced in the 21st century with both state-of-the-art technology and a variety of distance learning initiatives. At night she spends time in a world of romantic suspense and romantic women’s fiction, putting her characters through tortuous self-revelation, giving villains their comeuppance, and ensuring happily ever afters. She and her husband live in the Pacific Northwest and still enjoy exploring the natural beauty God has provided.

Website: http://maggiejaimeson.com
Publisher: http://thewildrosepress.com
Facebook fan page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Maggie-Jaimeson/118916694787820
Twitter: http://twitter.com/maggiejaimeson

Tuesday Spotlight: Maggie Jaimeson

How Paying It Forward Makes Heroes of All of Us

Do you remember the “pay it forward” phenomenon? The movie was based on Catherine Ryan Hyde’s novel, Pay it Forward, in 2000. She also founded a foundation to continue the work. This is a great example how writing a novel can spurn so many good deeds.

Another similar concept is the “Random Acts of Kindness” movement. When it first became news, we heard of people buying gas for the next person in line, or someone paying for a meal for a stranger. It doesn’t make news much now, but I know people still practice random acts of kindness.

In my novel, the hero begins with an act of kindness when he helps a hurt and lost boy. He could have ignored the boy. He could have assumed the child would be all right or would be found by someone else who really knew what to do. Instead Reed reaches out, and he puts himself on the line a little more each day to help the boy. In the process he learns even more about himself.

If you ever find yourself asking the question “How can I (one person) have a real impact on changing the world?” I would say it doesn’t have to be something that makes a big splash. Each of us can make a significant impact on the world by reaching out and helping one person at a time. Your help will be remembered and the reward will be when that person helps someone else because of that memory. That is a random act of kindness. That is paying it forward. That action is what makes heroes of all of us.

By day Maggie Jaimeson embraces the moniker “geek girl.” As an IT administrator and teacher she works to keep a college ensconced in the 21st century with both state-of-the-art technology and a variety of distance learning initiatives. At night she spends time in a world of romantic suspense and romantic women’s fiction, putting her characters through tortuous self-revelation, giving villains their comeuppance, and ensuring happily ever afters. She and her husband live in the Pacific Northwest and still enjoy exploring the natural beauty God has provided.

Website: http://maggiejaimeson.com
Publisher: http://thewildrosepress.com
Facebook fan page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Maggie-Jaimeson/118916694787820
Twitter: http://twitter.com/maggiejaimeson

Monday Spotlight: Maggie Jaimeson

The Story Behind EXPENDABLE

I believe all authors insert something of their own life experiences into their novels. In the case of romance, our heroes and heroines are sharing their most hidden wounds and most intimate thoughts with the reader. For me, my stories are a conglomeration of many incidents over time, frequently combined with current events. I call it “mashup” story development.

The original idea for EXPENDABLE actually came from an unresolved incident in my own life. Because of cervical cancer early in my life I was never able to have children. Several decades ago someone very close to me offered for me to take her unborn child. She was not married, poor, and could not support a baby. Unknown to her, I was getting divorced and I didn’t feel able to take the baby. Fortunately, she decided to keep the baby and I have had the privilege of watching him grow up and become a wonderful young man.

When I remarried, I had the great fortune to inherit two amazing step-sons. When I began writing this book, the oldest was returning to Iraq for his second tour. After hearing only a few stories about his first tour, I was scared to death he would come home with PTSD. That is why the hero of my story has PTSD. Again, fortunately, our son came home without injury (physical or mental) and is now in law school.

While our son was in Iraq, there was a lot of news about stem cell research and whether it was ethical to use cells from aborted fetuses to do the research. That was the final piece that tied together my story. Now I had a heroine with an impossible choice from her pregnant sister, a former-Marine hero with PTSD, a murder, a child with no identity, and biogenetic experiments. A “mashup” made for romantic suspense.

By day Maggie Jaimeson embraces the moniker “geek girl.” As an IT administrator and teacher she works to keep a college ensconced in the 21st century with both state-of-the-art technology and a variety of distance learning initiatives. At night she spends time in a world of romantic suspense and romantic women’s fiction, putting her characters through tortuous self-revelation, giving villains their comeuppance, and ensuring happily ever afters. She and her husband live in the Pacific Northwest and still enjoy exploring the natural beauty God has provided.

Website: http://maggiejaimeson.com
Publisher: http://thewildrosepress.com
Facebook fan page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Maggie-Jaimeson/118916694787820
Twitter: http://twitter.com/maggiejaimeson