Maggie Lyons was born in Wales and brought up in England before gravitating west to Virginia’s coast. She zigzagged her way through a motley variety of careers from orchestral management to law-firm media relations to academic editing. Writing and editing nonfiction for adults brought plenty of satisfaction but nothing like the magic she discovered in writing fiction and nonfiction for children. Several of her articles, poetry, and a chapter book have been published in the children’s magazines Stories for Children Magazine and knowonder!
VS: I want to thank you for being my guest here on The Writing Mama today, Maggie. To get things started can you share what you do to help balance your writing life with your family life?
Maggie: Very fortunately for me, I’m retired and my son left the nest some time ago. That doesn’t mean I have no other commitments, of course. In fact, I’m very busy as a freelance editor, but I do have the privilege of being able to control my schedule.
VS: I'm sure it helps having control over your schedule. One of the many reasons why a lot of people like being a freelancer. Besides editing and other things you also do a lot of writing. How long have you been writing?
Maggie: I started as a business writer more than thirty years ago. My fascination for children’s writing is much more recent. That muse inspired me about five years ago.
VS: I'm sure all the years of being a business writer has helped you hone your talents and crossing the bridge into children's/YA has been a little easier for you. What inspired you to write your book, Vin and the Dorky Duet?
Maggie: My love of music, a good challenge and happy memories of motherhood when my son was young.
VS: All very inspiring and good reasons to write a story too. What is a typical writing day like for you?
Maggie: I don’t have a typical day. Editing deadlines come first. When they’re taken care of, I try to respond to the call of social media. Since that can be very addictive, I have to take care to limit the time I spend on it. I work on new story ideas in bits and pieces—a line here, a paragraph there.
VS: Sounds like you have a system in place to some degree. Is your family supportive of your writing?
Maggie: I have a wonderful fiance who is a tremendous champion of my efforts.
VS: Congrats on the engagement and support! If this isn’t your first publication, what was the first thing you ever had published?
Maggie: One of my very first jobs entailed writing the program notes for the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, DC. That was a marvelous job. I could borrow as many books as I liked from the music library at the Library of Congress, indulge my love of classical music, and get paid to do so. In terms of my fiction and nonfiction for children, V. S. Grenier published several articles in her Stories for Children Magazine and Philip Chipping published my chapter book Dewi the Red Dragon in his knowonder! magazine—yes, the entire chapter book.
VS: Can you share with us a little about your current book, Vin and the Dorky Duet?
Maggie: This is a story about magnetic compost heaps, man-eating bubble baths, and other disasters that erupt when an inventive seventh-grader meets a challenge to win a David Beckham autographed soccer jersey if he can befriend an unsociable nerd and introduce his sister to the nerd’s hunky brother.
VS: What did you find to be the most challenging part of writing your book?
Maggie: Making sure I wrote as a twelve-year-old boy would write because the story’s narrator is twelve-year-old Vin.
VS: Yes, I can see that being a challenge indeed. What part of your book do you feel really stands out to you personally?
Maggie: It all “stands out”—just kidding. I hope readers will enjoy the gags. I think humor is essential in children’s fiction, especially in boys’ fiction. And it doesn’t hurt to laugh as an adult either.
VS: What character is most like you?
Maggie: Probably Vin, the main character. Like me, he doesn’t always think things through and sometimes makes up his mind about people too quickly.
VS: Do you have any other works in progress? Can you share a little about them?
Maggie: My adventure/fantasy Dewi and the Seeds of Doom will be released by MuseItUp Publishing this coming October. The paperback will be published by Halo Publishing International probably around the same time. Dewi and the Seeds of Doom is a story for children aged seven through eleven about a Welsh dragon with a passion for sleuthing—and a snout for trouble.
VS: Sounds like another wonderful book by you. I'm looking forward to reading it. What tips can you give writing parents with children at home to help them see publication?
Maggie: Acquire the art of focusing so efficiently that you can write a book in thirty-second writing spurts. Seriously, I have no magic spell to solve the problem of trying to write surrounded by small bottle rockets. Some say to work out the plot while you’re washing up or pushing the stroller; turn a blind eye to housework and write instead; join a babysitting cooperative and use it to take a three-hour break at the library where you can write in peace. Maybe the answer is to not worry too much about producing a literary gem at this point in your life. If you write for children, just take notes on what your child is doing and saying for use in a future bestseller. Whatever your genre, try developing a fantastic memory that will allow you to work out the entire book in your head before “copying” it down on paper or the computer when you do have the time to write your masterpiece. That’s what Mozart did, as a daily routine, and look where it got him.
VS: Very good advice, Maggie. What do you think are the basic ingredients of a good book?
Maggie: A logical storyline and compelling characters are essential to both adult and children’s fiction, but a story for children should also be fast-paced and humor is important too.
VS: What is required for a character to be believable? How do you create yours?
Maggie: Tough question because some people in real life seem quite unbelievable. Once you establish a character’s overall personality, you need to keep the features of that personality consistent. You have to be able to anticipate what your characters will say and do. If you make them act out of character, be sure you’ve first built a solid foundation for them of consistency in speech and behavior.
VS: Okay, I hope this isn't too tough. What do you feel as parents we need to do to help our children see success?
Maggie: Encourage them to be avid readers and therefore proficient readers. Literacy in childhood is critical to quality of life in adulthood.
VS: Where can the readers of The Writing Mama find out more about and your writing?
My website is at: http://www. maggielyons.yolasite.com
My Amazon author page is at: amazon.com/author/maggielyonschildrensbooks
My Facebook author page is at:facebook.com/MaggieLyonsChildrensBooks
The Amazon buy page for Vin and the Dorky Duet is : http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008AK7ALE.
As of August 1, the paperback is on sale at: http://halopublishing.com/bookstore/Maggie-Lyons and will soon be available at Amazon.
Vin and the Dorky Duet
Publisher: Halo Publishing Int. & MuseItUp Publishing (Canadian e-book publisher)
ISBN: 978-1-61244-091-0 (paperback)
ISBN: 978-1-77127-073-1 (eBook)
Genre of Book: Children’s Chapter Book Adventure
About the Book:
A twelve-year-old boy named Vin, goes on a mission—reluctantly. He doesn’t share the optimism of the knights of old who embarked on impossible missions without a doubt they’d succeed. When magnetic compost heaps, man-eating bubble baths and other disasters erupt, Vin comes close to packing in the whole ridiculous business. He calls it Operation BS, his code name for a mission to introduce his sister to a boy she has a crush on. He doesn’t want to play matchmaker, but Meg’s promise to reward him with a David Beckham autographed soccer jersey is a decisive incentive.
Get a sneak peek of the book at http://youtu.be/Qtgtp_rnAZ4
The World of Ink Network is touring author Maggie Lyons’s contemporary children’s chapter book, Vin and the Dorky Duet throughout August and September 2012. You can find out more about Maggie Lyons and her book through her World of Ink Author/Book Tour at http://tinyurl.com/9t24kgy
To learn more about the World of Ink Tours visit http://worldofinknetwork.com