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


  1. To add to your toast: to figuring out where you fit! So glad you found your niche.

  2. Hear hear! I agree, Patricia. :) Thank you for posting.

  3. Is't writing suspense and mystery so much more fun than writing sex scenes. After all aren't there more ways to off someone than the Karma Sutra has positions listed

  4. LOL, Lindsay! Plenty, indeed. And the motives are even more interesting and fun to figure out and write...

  5. My first attempt to post was eaten by the blogger monster, so let's try using the compatibility mode button.
    Meg, I enjoyed your interesting post. Great fun to to create murder and mayhem without leaving your chair! :-)

  6. I heard a few people had issues posting. I've routed the MFRW Blog Fairy Crew and they're checking for excess pixie dust. (Okay, it's just me jiggling the wires, but you know. *shrugs*) Hopefully get the trouble fixed in a jif.

  7. LOL - don't let the pixie dust spoil those gorgeous roses!! or the pearls. ;-D

  8. Everything checks out on the background. The pixie dust has been swept up, and all looks okay. I know people with Internet Explorer have had issues, so if that's you... it may have to do with cookies. For some reason, IE does not like Blogger's cookies. It doesn't like Amazon's either, and eventually, I had to give up IE in favor of Mozilla and/or Chrome so I could use both. If anyone's still having issues, email me at kayelle@kayelleallen.com and tell me your browser, and whether you use PC, Mac, or other operating system. I'll do my best to get you fixed up and ready to go.

  9. I prefer Mozilla myself to IE! Haven't tried Chrome yet. Could be why I never have trouble posting comments! :-)

  10. Great post, Lindsay, that's been quite a journey!I'm glad you finally found where you belong!

  11. Wow, I thought I was the only romance writer who had the transcontinental railroad as a major player in a story.
    We have to exchange research sites!

  12. Meg, I always seem to have a body count in my novels. Great blog post and its so nice to see that there is a place for every writer. Congrats and thanks for sharing!