Meg Mims is an award-winning author of an 1860s mystery series. To celebrate the release of her new novel, Double or Nothing, she is touring the blogosphere and giving away an e-book of Double Crossing or Double or Nothing. To win a copy of one of Meg’s books, simply leave a comment about why you like reading mysteries.
1. Who or what inspired you to start writing and when did you start?
I started writing when my daughter was three years old. I wanted to write a book because what I found on the shelves didn’t satisfy me, and I thought I could do better. It sure took me a while to figure out that yes, I could do better — but it wasn’t easy! I still laugh about that. I took a lot of “breaks” since then, sometimes a month, and once a four-year fallow period – before my non-fiction publications stacked up, and my first published novel was released. My 26-year old daughter is now my main beta-reader and editor.
2. What tools and process do you use to “get to know” your characters before and while you’re writing the books?
I use an extensive questionnaire from Noah Lukeman’s books – The First Five Pages and The Plot Thickens, for each main character plus the villain. The minor characters get less detailed, but knowing their backgrounds does help. I keep a “book bible” to track characters’ physical features, including photos I might use to inspire me – like the late actor Pete Duel for Ace Diamond and the early 1900s actress Mary Miles Mintner. I also use historical maps to keep track of a particular setting, like Sacramento or San Francisco, Omaha and Chicago, plus I create a timeline of events. They all help to keep me on track.
3. How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?
I plot extensively for my full novels. Total plotter! My outline can be up to twenty pages! For my novellas, I tend to “pants” it – keep an outline in my head, keep it fresh and flowing. But then I’m stuck with multiple revisions. Sigh.
I used to believe plot was far more important in a mystery — until learning that characters drive the plot, and the emotions keep things from getting boring. I try to keep a healthy balance. It’s worked so far, since Double Crossing earned a Spur Award. I’m hoping readers find Double or Nothing just as balanced.
5. What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer and what inspires you and keeps you motivated?
Oddly enough, the biggest challenge so far has been finishing the sequel, Double or Nothing! The pressure was incredible, since Double Crossing won the Spur for Best First Novel. Oy!! Would I be a “one-book wonder?” But I’d already planned book 2, so I had to doggedly plot, research and keep writing – despite self-doubt and fear. And some big upheavals in life. I hope readers enjoy it as much as Double Crossing.
6. What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to writing?
I wake, take dogs outside, feed them, take them back out, take care of cat while my coffee brews. Then it’s breakfast – and after that, I’m on the laptop no later than 9 a.m. I don’t shut it down until 10 p.m. or later. It depends on what current writing projects I’m juggling with promotion or blogging, emails and such, but I try to write something (even a blog post questionnaire like this) every day. I work pretty much every day of the week, except Sunday mornings and time I “take off” for “lunch with friends,” errands or evening meetings. It’s pretty busy, but I do love it.
7. What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?
Three words — perseverance, patience, and discipline.
8. Now here’s a zinger. Tell us something about yourself that you have not revealed in another interview yet. Something as simple as your favorite TV show or food will do.
I’m totally addicted to “Person of Interest,” with Jim Caviezel, and the other actors are great too. The only other TV show I watch is “NCIS,” with Mark Harmon. Love the characters and “family” atmosphere. That’s gonna be hard when the show ends.
9. What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?
I’m working on two mystery series, one a collaboration with another award-winning author, plus I plan to release several more contemporary novels this year.
Clocks and time play a big part in any late bloomer’s life. And time plays a vital part in every mystery.
Meg Mims is an award-winning author and artist. She writes blended genres – historical, western, adventure, romance, suspense and mystery. Her first book, Double Crossing, won the 2012 Spur Award for Best First Novel from Western Writers of America and was named a Finalist in the Best Books of 2012 from USA Book News for Fiction: Western. The sequel, Double or Nothing, is now out!
Meg also wrote two contemporary romance novellas, Santa Paws and The Key to Love. Her short story “Seafire” is included in the charity anthology Hazard Yet Forward to benefit a fellow writer battling breast cancer. She earned an M.A. from Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction program in 2010 and is a member of RWA, WWA, Women Writing the West, Western Fictioneers and Sisters in Crime. Born and raised in Michigan, Meg lives with her husband, a “Make My Day” white Malti-poo and a rescue Lhasa Apso, plus a drooling black cat. Her artistic work is in watercolor, acrylic and pen/ink media.
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?
Book 2 – DOUBLE OR NOTHING
A mysterious explosion. A man framed for murder. A strong woman determined to prove his innocence.
October, 1869: Lily Granville, now heiress to a considerable fortune, rebels against her uncle’s strict rules in Sacramento, California. Ace Diamond, determined to win Lily, invests in a dynamite factory for a quick “killing,” but his status as a successful businessman fails to impress her guardian. An explosion in San Francisco, mere hours before Lily elopes with Ace to avoid a forced marriage, sets off a chain of unforeseen consequences.
Despite Lily’s protests that her new husband has been framed, Ace is dragged off to jail as the culprit. Evidence mounts against him. Lily must learn who was actually behind the diabolical plan… and save Ace from the hangman’s noose. Will she become a widow before a true wife?
To win a copy of one of Meg’s books, simply leave a comment about why you like reading mysteries.