THE OFFICIAL BIO
Maggie Lynch is the author of 27 published books, as well as numerous short stories and non-fiction articles. Her fiction tells stories of men and women making heroic choices one messy moment at a time. Maggie is also the founder of Windtree Press, an independent publishing cooperative with nearly 300 titles among 26 authors.
Her love of lifelong-learning has garnered degrees in psychology, counseling, computer science, and education; and led to opportunities to consult in the United States, Europe, Australia, and the Middle East. Since 2013, Maggie and her musician husband have settled in the beautiful Pacific Northwest where she now enjoys the luxury of balancing her love of writing with helping other authors through Windtree Press and through her author consulting business POV Author Services. Her fiction spans romance, suspense, science fiction and fantasy titles. Her current non-fiction titles are focused on helping career authors succeed in the business side of writing and publishing.
Maggie is also a sought-after speaker and workshop presenter. She has presented workshops for authors all around the country and has been a keynote speaker at many conventions and conferences.
THE INFORMAL ME
The tagline version of my life is: A repressed gypsy, creative by nature, who has tried to become a renaissance woman while maintaining a home life within the expectations of modern living. I’ve never believed I can’t do it all. Though I’m coming to the conclusion that some things may not happen in this lifetime. Is there another? I don’t know, but by helping others I believe my life goals will be extended as well.
Somewhere around age 10 I began telling stories, writing plays, and even creating lyrics and music. I had an amazing upbringing in a very loving family, where I’m the oldest of nine children. Some would call us poor, but I never felt that way growing up. We had an abundance of love, a great faith community that helped when illness or tragedy struck. I didn’t grow up watching TV all the time and never developed a need for the latest fashion or trending item. I had a lot of time to play outside and let my imagination run wild.
WRITING – My first recognition for my writing was in 4th grade when I came in second place in a national essay contest about freedom. The recognition by the entire elementary school at an assembly reinforced my love for writing. In High School I continued to get small publication recognitions and one short story published in Catholic Digest about a piano that was anonymously gifted to our family to honor my mother’s volunteering to play at church and so she could teach the rest of us how to play.
However, my first book publication was 15 years later when Utah State University Press published my children’s SF chapter book in 1979. I wrote A Trip to the Moon as part of a research project for helping to increase reading skills in fourth graders who were more than two years behind their grade. I used both “real” words and made up words in the story to ensure they could sound out a new word and get context for its meaning. A wonderful illustrator did all the illustrations in the book. It was offered as a reward for students participating in the program, along with a board game I designed.
After that first publication, I regularly submitted short stories to Science Fiction and Fantasy magazines and anthologies throughout the 1980’s and into the early 1990’s. About one in six submissions were eventually published. During the 1980’s, I also had a couple more short memoir (slice of life) stories published in Catholic Digest and Reader’s Digest. My literary short stories appeared in a variety of small press magazines including Back Porch, Glimmer Train, and Zoetrope. I still occasionally publish a short story in anthologies today. However, most of my fiction writing is now concentrated in novels.
In the late 1990’s I returned to college to pursue a doctorate degree. I had careers that had vacillated between the cold logic of software design and the extremely intimate human connections of counseling. Teaching was the tie between the two. So, I made the decision that I wanted to teach at the university level and that meant earning a doctorate degree. During the first decade of my academic career, I stopped writing fiction and concentrated on writing and publishing nonfiction textbooks in my field of expertise–instructional design and online learning. I was fortunate to publish four textbooks during that time. Three were with Taylor and Francis / Routledge and one with Pearson.
When I turned fifty, I made the decision that I needed to start writing novels if I was going to have a writing career into retirement. Since early in high school, I always saw myself as a creative person and writing fit my personality for spending many hours alone with my thoughts and stories. However, I doubted my ability to make a living at it. So, I put it in my goals that it would be my retirement career. Turning 50 was a kind of wake-up call to let me know I hadn’t done anything to create that career except for publishing short stories every now and then. It was quite the learning curve to move from short stories to novels. I also had to unlearn all the structures of writing academic nonfiction and research papers that I’d done for more than a decade.
During the next five years I wrote five novels. Two were what I call my practice novels. In other words, they will never see the light of day, but they helped me to hone my craft and understand story structure in a longer form. The other three novels started going out to agents, editors and publishers beginning in 2004. In 2009, I signed a two book deal with a major publisher. However, before the first book was due to the editor left and went to another publisher. The new editor wasn’t interested in my books and the rights came back to me with a kill fee. I received my first contract from a publisher on a different book in 2010 and it was published in Fall 2011.
Fortunately, in 2011 Indie publishing was becoming the preferred option for many authors. Bestselling authors began leaving their publishers and taking the Indie route and I was hearing from my author friends how satisfying it was to write the stories they wanted and be paid more than they could make in traditional publishing. So, in 2011, I published a second stand-alone novel on my own (remember I had three making the rounds). I quickly learned how much I enjoyed the control I had over my publication process and not having to try to make my novels fit within a narrow definition of genre. At the same time I founded Windtree Press, an author publishing cooperative, to help other authors publish independently while leveraging the economies of scale with a larger press.
I have been independent since 2011, but do still evaluate every book project I do as to the best fit for publishing. I do envision returning to working with a big publisher with the right project.
THEATER – As I mentioned above, as a child I conscripted family members and friends into recreating movies and plays I enjoyed. I continued to be involved in theater in high school, acting in numerous plays and after college I did get roles in summer stock which finally earned me my Equity card. In my late twenties, I was also cast in small roles in a couple of films which got me my SAG card. Once I hit thirty years old, I put away the gypsy life and decided that the actors life was not sustainable and the variety of jobs I did (waitress, secretary, temp service) in between paying gigs were not a great long term career for me. I needed to use my college education and get serious. 🙂
I haven’t acted in anything now for more than forty years, but I still love going to stage plays and watching movies. Acting was a great experience for me. An introvert by nature, it taught me how to embody a character that used my personal experience for emotional connection while not having to be fully me. Good training for story telling, emotional writing craft, and public speaking. I’m still an introvert but I can do lots of public things by embodying a character that is a more confident and fun-loving person than I perceive myself to be.
MUSIC – I love music! My mother taught me to play piano and I kept at it until high school. I also took up the violin in fourth grade, thanks to a program of providing free instruments to children who wished to learn to play. I kept playing until my junior year of college. Though I loved playing music, there were many other things I loved as well, and I made the choice to spend my time and money elsewhere. (The story of my life is always wanting to learn more and something new.) I’ve kept music alive by singing in church and community choirs most of my life. I also have an electronic keyboard at home that I use when I want/need to create music.
In 2000, I smartly married a marvelous musician who plays guitar in a variety of styles. Guitars are much more portable than pianos, anyway. I enjoy going to his gigs. I’m a pretty good roadie and a consistent fan of his music. We occasionally collaborate on new original songs. I frequently offer lyrics and the occasional musical suggestion. However, he creates the final tunes and there are always changes to the lyrics I provide to match the meters of the tune. On rare occasions I will join him on stage and actually sing a tune or two.
My Sweetwater Canyon series of books has generated plenty of original music. My husband has written at least one new tune for each book based on lyrics or poetry I include in the books. I’ve also mentioned song titles that my Sweetwater Canyon gals include in their set list. These are usually from his own set list, as well as some of my favorite Pacific Northwest Musicians.
READING – Reading sustained me through many difficult times growing up. I’m the oldest of nine children. That means I always have an army ready to support me. It also means that a lot can happen–both amazing and sad. I’ve always been a good reader and devoured books. As I child I read a lot of fantasy. As a teenager I read primarily science fiction and the occasional Harlequin romance purloined from my mother’s stash. As an adult I read much more widely–science fiction, fantasy, romance, women’s fiction, suspense, thrillers. It’s no wonder I love writing in numerous genres as well or mashing genres together in one story.
EXPLORING AND TRAVEL – I love walking and exploring. In my 40’s and 50’s I was fortunate to have many opportunities to travel on business in Europe, the Middle East, Australia, and all over the United States. In 2000, my husband and I were married in Scotland and honeymooned there and in Ireland. Both countries have ancestral ties for us. Our current bucket list still contains new travel destinations, ranging from New Zealand to Iceland. However, our monthly travel tends to be places close to home (within two or three hours). There is certainly plenty to explore right here in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.
I may not be quite the renaissance woman I pictured early in life, but I’m continuing to try to learn and become the best version of myself possible.