Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Meg Mims: I See Dead Characters

I started writing traditional romance. Really. Just ask my long-time critique partner, who slogged through a family saga before I started another project. Over the first few years, I snagged plenty of editors (slush-pile submissions, no less) who loved my writing style. So? Why didn’t I get published long ago in romance?

They told me I had plot-heavy manuscripts, not enough romance—and what was with all the dead bodies? Plenty of historical romances have dead bodies lying around, though, from wars or vengeful alpha heroes. I didn’t see the problem. Yeah, my historical style focuses on the plot. For years I tried to beat that down and failed. If one of my characters turned around, someone ended up dead. Blame them, not me! And besides, my characters didn’t have time for romance. They might think about it, or get distracted by their mutual attraction, but then they force themselves to refocus and solve the puzzle.

Trust me, I’m a slow learner. I never considered switching genres to mystery. Go figure.

Problem number two—I hadn’t learned how to keep a reader’s interest from start to finish. My beginnings sucked them in and then fell flat. So who am I to complain (too much) about not selling right away. No first book wonder here. Or second book. Or third, fourth or fifth. Even my sixth, a traditional mystery, written during the Master’s program at Seton Hill University—which won an RWA chapter contest last year, for heaven’s sake, is still languishing on an editor’s desk. (Revisions ahead, I’m sure, whether or not I’m rejected.)

I did sell the fourth book, however, after a major overhaul. But I don’t regret the hours I spent learning how to market from the Savvy Authors group, from Kayelle Allen and Marcia James, and from expert Margie Lawson who teaches infusing emotions and body language. I chose to accept the offer from a small publishing house, Astraea Press—whose focus is on clean fiction. They loved the mix of suspense and romance (and the happy ending is guaranteed, since justice is always served in the end of mystery!) Astraea Press is now rocketing upward in the wake of readers wanting stories with sweet romance.

Does Double Crossing have *any* romance? A hint, with more to come in the sequel (I promise, unless my characters get distracted again). Lily Granville tracks her father’s killer across country to California, but soon realizes she is no longer the hunter—but the prey.

Double Crossing is what I call a twist of “True Grit” on the new transcontinental railroad, set in late summer of 1869. It has more than one dead body. But I’m very pleased that readers have given it high marks for “suspense, humor and an assortment of colorful characters… And history buffs will enjoy every accurate and fascinating period detail…” Check out more reviews on my website (http://www.double-crossing.com) and on Goodreads and Amazon.

To romance, to mystery and suspense! May dead bodies continue to haunt my characters.

Meg Mims
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Author Meg Mims is a member of Marketing for Romance Writers. You can follow her here: