Tuesday, April 17

Welcome Author Meg Mims!

Hello, Wranglers, it's D'Ann! Visiting us today is author Meg Mims, a writer of historical westerns - and the winner of a Spur award! All about Meg: 

Meg Mims is an award-winning author and artist. She loves writing blended genres – like historical, western, adventure, romance, suspense and mystery. Her first book, Double Crossing, won the 2012 WWA Spur Award for Best First Novel.


Double Crossing is currently available from Astraea PressAmazon and Barnes & Noble in ebook and print. Meg also wrote a contemporary romance novella, The Key to Love, published in February 2012.
Meg is a staff writer for Lake Effect Living, a West Coast of Michigan tourist on-line magazine. Her article about the one-legged Civil War veteran and lighthouse keeper of South Haven, James S. Donahue, appeared in Vol. 34, No. 2 Summer 2011 issue of The Chronicle, the Historical Society of Michigan magazine.
Meg’s artistic work is in watercolor, acrylic and pen/ink media. Meg earned an M.A. from Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction program. She is a member of RWA and SCBWI (published in the children’s magazine market since 1997.) Born and raised in Michigan, she lives with her husband, a “Make My Day” white Malti-poo and a drooling black cat.

“Never let the odds keep you from doing what you know in your heart you were meant to do.” H. Jackson Brown Jr.

And now, on with the interview! 


D'Ann: Meg, Thank you for visiting Wordwranglers today! I met you on a Facebook group for historical western writers, and was impressed by your recent Spur award!  For those of you unaware of what that is, it is the western writer’s equivalent of the RITA.  Very prestigious.   Congratulations.   


Meg: Thank you so much! I was stunned to learn my book won Best First Novel.
1.      
D'Ann: Tell us about your Spur entry, please.

Meg: Double Crossing is my “spin” on True Grit – only it takes place on the Iron Horse of 1869. I’ve always been fascinated by trains. My grandfather worked for the Grand Trunk railroad before the Depression. I really loved researching the transcontinental railroad and how it opened up westward expansion. For Double Crossing, I used the same “revenge” premise as True Grit and made my heroine 19, sheltered and ladylike. But Lily is just as determined to track her father’s killer.

2.       D'Ann: Is there a romance involved?

Meg: Book 1 of the Double Series has a bit of romance, since Lily meets a mercenary cowboy and hires him for protection. I rolled “Rooster Cogburn” and “LaBoeuf” into one character, Ace Diamond – horseless at the time, an ex-Confederate Texan wandering cowboy. Ace is willing to take an easy trip “riding shotgun” in order to get to California. He soon discovers the journey is not so easy after all.

3.      D'Ann: How has your win impacted your career?

Meg: I’m still amazed by such an honor. I appreciate the attention my book has received, and hope more people buy and enjoy the story. I’m a “blended genre” writer. Incorporating history, mystery, suspense and romance into one book makes it a “something for everyone” read. I was invited to speak at the South Dakota Book Fest in September as a direct result of the win, and also to write for a western anthology in the future. All very exciting!

4.      D'Ann: Did you go to the award ceremony?

Meg: The WWA convention is coming up in June. I’m looking forward to Albuquerque, and hope my husband and daughter can tag along as well. I’ve met a lot of western writers since my win. I’m guessing I must have been a “dark horse” coming from the East. Being born and raised in Michigan, I’m an “armchair” westerner. But I intend to have a blast!

5.      D'Ann: What draws you to write about the Old West?

Meg: I always loved watching TV shows with my dad – Bonanza, High Chaparral, Maverick and all the classic western movies too along with The Cheyenne Social Club, Paint Your Wagon, A Mule for Sister Sarah, True Grit (both versions), Rooster Cogburn, Hang ‘em High, Goin’ South, etc. Some of these were panned by critics, but I still enjoyed them as entertaining stories. I also understood that Hollywood’s “take” on the west was not always accurate. Along with books, the movies spurred (sorry for the pun!) my interest in history.

6.      D'Ann: I've asked each of my interviewees so far if they could flash back to that time, so your turn.  Who would you want to be?

Meg: Oh boy—er, girl. I would have loved to be Nellie Bly, who talked her way into working for a newspaper, wrote an expose of an insane asylum and traveled around the world. One  western woman I admire is Lizzie Johnson Williams of Texas, a smart, smart woman – she taught school and kept books for the area’s cattlemen, registered her own cattle brand after seeing the profits to be made, had a pre-nup when she married to keep her own financial dealings in her name. Adventurous and smart, like my heroine Lily Granville!

7.      D'Ann: Where would you have liked to visit in those days?  Tombstone?  Dodge City?

Meg: I did a lot of research for my book since the transcontinental railroad’s eastern terminus began in Omaha and ended in Sacramento—in 1869, anyway, since the line extended to San Francisco at a later time. If I must choose, I would say Cheyenne, Wyoming. Visit only, since it kept to the business of stockyards. I’d probably choose Denver or San Francisco to live, though. Denver for the glorious sight of the Rockies, and Frisco for the lovely hills and views of the Bay, plus the theater and cultural offerings.

8.       D'Ann: What's a perfect day for you like?

Meg: Peace and quiet, perhaps some soundtrack music in the background while I write 2,000 words or more, with lunch from Panera’s. Ha! I’m trying hard to balance the promotion, writing, keeping up with blogs, reading what’s current, etc. It’s not easy these days.

9.      D'Ann: What author inspires you?

Meg: I can’t pinpoint one. I’ll say Laura Ingalls Wilder, because as a child reading her books, I first took interest in history. Harper Lee is another, for her lush vivid imagery and in-depth perception of humanity. LaVyrle Spencer’s romances also inspired me, as did Ursula LeGuin’s science fiction. I admire any author who can dig deep into themes.

10.  D'Ann: What’s next for you?

Meg: I’m writing Book 2, the sequel to Double Crossing – tentatively titled Double or Nothing. Lily and Ace are not done yet with intrigue, mystery and forces that want to keep them apart. I’m enjoying the research for old California, since it’s primarily set there. I want to make it a stronger book, or at least equal to the first. Check out my website page –  http://www.megmims.com/double-series for more information.

Thanks so much for having me here today, D’Ann!


BOOK BLURB:
A murder arranged as a suicide … a missing deed  … and a bereft daughter whose sheltered world is shattered.

August, 1869: Lily Granville is stunned by her father’s murder. Only one other person knows about a valuable California gold mine deed — both are now missing. Lily heads west on the newly opened transcontinental railroad, determined to track the killer. She soon realizes she is no longer the hunter but the prey.
As things progress from bad to worse, Lily is uncertain who to trust—the China-bound missionary who wants to marry her, or the wandering Texan who offers to protect her … for a price. Will Lily survive the journey and unexpected betrayal?

Ebook:  ISBN# 978-1-936852-48-2   Print: ISBN # 1466223200
BUY LINK:  Astraea Press, AmazonBarnes & NobleSmashwords  CLICK HERE TO SEE the book trailer!

EXCERPT:

I clamped a handkerchief over my mouth but Omaha’s black dirt still choked me. My hard sneeze left a ringing in my ears. There had to be a general store somewhere with needles and thread. Stray sparks from the Chicago and Western’s smokestack had burned tiny holes in my split skirt and jacket, and I was desperate to repair them both.
At last I found a shop. A bell jangled above my head when I entered. The bulky proprietor laughed and joked with several customers while he filled orders at the polished walnut counter. I meandered down each crowded aisle. Scents of dill, chives and cinnamon tickled my nose. Potatoes with earthy skins and papery onions filled open barrels. Small jars of pickled beets and corn relish, tins of fruit and baked beans lined the shelves. Huge burlap sacks of flour, sugar, salt, coffee and beans lay near the door, and wheels of cheese had been stacked above crates of smoked fish and salt pork.
Seeing the flatirons, hoes, plows and other tools all around brought a sense of normalcy back to my life. I realized I’d been wandering in a haze since Father’s funeral.
I soon found the rack of notions. “Closing in half an hour, miss,” Mr. Porter said with a friendly smile. “Like to see my bolts of silk? I got pattern paper too.”
“I need a travel sewing kit, if you have one.”
Armed with a clever box crammed with thread, needles and a tiny pair of silver folding scissors, I wandered the back aisles. A leather money belt caught my eye, with firm stitching and eight compartments. Dodging a row of sturdy butter churns and stacked washboards, I placed the belt on the counter along with an oilcloth cape and several green apples.
“Two dozen peppermints also, please.”
“Certainly, miss.”
Once I paid the bill, I scurried to a quiet corner away from the few remaining shoppers. Shiny snaps on the wide belt secured each compartment. I adjusted it around my waist and tugged my suit jacket to hide its bulk. Perfect!
I glanced around for a mirror and then froze, staring at my feet and then behind me. My pocketbook was nowhere in sight. I thought I’d wedged the leather two-handled bag between the crates of saltines at my elbow. Frantic, I searched the entire corner and each aisle of the shop in vain. Fear gripped me in a stranglehold. My expensive Pullman ticket, stolen! My hands shook and I had trouble thinking straight for a full minute.
I raced back to the counter. I waited until Mr. Porter finished a customer’s transaction. “Sir, did I leave my pocketbook here? I paid my bill not five minutes ago. The money belt, sewing kit, peppermints—”
“Sure I remember, miss.” Mr. Porter reached beneath the polished wood and planted my bag on top. “A gent brought this to me. Said he found it on a barrel.”
I stared at him. “What did he look like?”
The storekeeper shrugged. “Wore a suit and derby hat, like every other man passing through town.”
I opened the pocketbook’s clasp and glanced inside. Everything was intact, even my precious Pullman ticket and all my money. I murmured a prayer of thanks until realizing that my sketchbook was wedged upside down, on the wrong side. My black-edged handkerchiefs were crumpled on the bottom as well. Someone had searched the contents.
Someone who followed me from the hotel. Some stranger from the train, or Emil Todaro himself? A shiver raced up my spine. It couldn’t be possible. Or could it? Had I underestimated him again? Instead of being the hunter, was I now the prey?
That thought infuriated me

47 comments:

  1. Such an interesting story...such an interesting lady...er, I mean ma'am.

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    1. LOL - thanks, Em! Love the fedora. I'm writing a 1908 historical mystery (not a western) and my heroine wears a fedora - I like writing characters who don't conform to the times.

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  2. I'm still partial to Western fiction and am surprised when I hear that they are not popular with the big publishers these days. Good thing so many small presses have sprung up!

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    1. Thanks for stopping in, Jacqueline. Yes, Double Crossing made the rounds -- finaled in many different RWA contests, so the "big six" editors had their chance. No hot sex (it's sweet) and the subtle inspirational element made it unique. I'm very grateful Astraea Press offered me the chance to publish!

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  3. That's a wonderful excerpt, Meg. Congratulations on all your success. I really enjoyed hearing the story behind this book.

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    1. Thank you, Cathy! I love infusing detail into my writing and want the reader to be "right there" seeing, hearing, smelling and experiencing the scene along with my characters. Writing first-person point of view is a bit restrictive, but it allows that intimate "bond" between Lily and the reader. I wanted that for Double Crossing.

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  4. Love western romance, and sweet is fine by me.
    I wish you all the success in the world with your new release!
    See ya tonight at our meeting,
    Neecy

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    1. Aww, thanks, Neecy! Unfortunately I am missing the meeting. Taxes, no groceries in house, and my non-fic deadline... it all added up! I will see ya next month, though.

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  5. Congratulations on your win. I know Mich pretty well - grew up in Windsor, Ont - right across the river from Detroit.
    Awesome interview and excerpt.

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    1. Thanks, Daryl! I love seeing Windsor - and eating at Cora's for breakfast or lunch, YUM!! Plus Canada's rail system is awesome. Wish we had that here.

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  6. Looks like my kind of book. I love western history and an author who can weave detail without being boring. I wish western romance was more popular with NY, but as someone said, thank God for small press publishers. Good luck with Double Crossing.

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    1. Thanks, Kathy! I'm hoping Double or Nothing, the sequel, does just as well with readers. :-D

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  7. Hi, Meg!

    D'Ann here. Blogger makes my name nutty. Thank you for coming by WW today. Congrats again on the SPUR.

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    1. Thanks again, D'Ann! I *love* the background here, since I'm a watercolor artist too.

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  8. Meg, good to "see" you here. So happy for your award. Yay, you! Love it when a nice person has special success. Best wishes for continued success and mega sales.

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    1. Thanks so much, Caroline! The Spur certainly was a very nice surprise! :-D

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  9. Congrats Meg. As a fellow Michigander, (ex, I now live in AR) I admire anyone who can write about the West without actually living there. And a SPUR! How awesome! Do you belong to WWA?

    D'Ann, superb interview with great questions.

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    1. Thanks, CJ! Once a Michigander, always a Michigander! Ya can't get the lakes/lighthouses out of your system, no matter where you end up. ;-) I am a member of WWA now!

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  10. Terrific interview ladies!

    Meg, your book sounds terrific and I enjoyed the excerpt! Congrats :)

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    1. Thank you so much, Christine! :-)

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  11. Congrats on the award, Meg. Loved the interview!

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    1. Thanks, Jerri! I had fun answering all the questions. :-D

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  12. Loved the interview. Congratulation on your award and your book.

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  13. What a grabbing excerpt, and congratulations on your award.

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    1. Thanks, Sheri! I try hard to infuse a lot of vivid imagery into my books.

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  14. Congrats on the Spur award, Meg! I love historical westerns...and old John Wayne movies and Louis L'Amour books. Can't wait to read yours!

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    1. Thank you, Kristina! I love John Wayne - the whole gamut - my dad and I watched them together all the time. Even the last one he did (when he was so ill), he was still a fabulous actor.

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  15. So nice to meet you, Meg! You must do tons of research for your books, wow! Your books sounds wonderful. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Hi, Jennifer - I do love research! Probably more than the writing, and you can't put it all in there or you'll drown a reader, LOL. Thanks!

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  16. Oh, love that excerpt, Meg. I'm a historical fan and I get where you're coming from on writing westerns. Congrats on your SPUR!

    Wonderful interview, ladies!

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    1. Thank you, Allison! I have always loved reading historical authors like Sharon Kay Penman and Judith Merkle Riley, Charles Todd, Will Thomas... it's a great escape.

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  17. Congratulations on your SPUR. Your excerpt was wonderful.

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  18. Great interview, ladies! I know Meg from Astraea and D'Ann from a crit group. It's a small world:)

    Meg, congrats on the award, and your excerpt was fabulous.

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    1. Thanks, Lisa! I am so grateful that Astraea Press offered me the chance to bring Double Crossing to readers. :-)

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  19. Thanks for coming by, Meg. Terrific interview and except. And congrats on your award!

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    1. Thanks, Shawn! I am enjoying the "limelight" now, but need to get busy on the sequel!

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  20. Congrats on your Spur award. Great excerpt.

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  21. Congrats! And awesome interview, ladies. I love your excerpt and am a big fan of True Grit... I just may have to put this on my TBR list.
    Good luck with your sales!

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    1. Thanks, Sara! If you haven't read the original book by Charles Portis, do -- it's really interesting. Both movies take liberties, although the Coen Brothers is a bit more true to its nature. I also loved Rooster Cogburn with the Duke and Hepburn.

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  22. Meg - Congrats on your SPUR! Your story sounds amazing.

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  23. Excerpt completely hooked me. Loved getting in the mind of this character. Thanks for sharing.

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  24. I love your perfect day, it sounds like my perfect day--including lunch at Panera's. My second favorite place to write but my favorite lunch place :)

    Great excerpt. Best of luck with your publishing

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