Tag Archives: author interview

Interview With Western Historical Mystery Author Meg Mims!

Misc-Spring-5-11-070-Copy1-300x211Meg Mims is an award-winning author of western historical mysteries. Double Crossing won the 2012 Spur Award for Best First Novel and was named a finalist in the 2012 USA Book News Awards. Meg published the sequel, Double or Nothing, in March of 2013. She is also one-half of the writing team D.E. Ireland with a new cozy mystery series coming out from St. Martin’s Press in 2014.

What’s your favorite food and drink?

Truly, it’s cookies. I would trade anything for cookies and a mug of Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Spice tea or a Caribou Mint (dark chocolate, please!) Mochoa. Panera’s shortbread, to be precise, drizzled with chocolate, or the chocolate/vanilla cookie from the Mexican bakery in Silver Springs, MD. I don’t mean to be fussy, but hey. Priorities.

Tell us about your Double Series.

I wrote Double Crossing as a twist on True Grit and Murder on the Orient Express. I was ecstatic when it won the Western Writers of America Spur Award in 2012 for Best First Novel. I mean, really?? That’s equivalent to an Edgar for mystery, to a Rita for romance, to a Bram Stoker for horror! So the pressure was on to make Double or Nothing, the sequel, just as entertaining yet different and a wrap-up to the heroine/hero relationship between Lily Granville and Ace Diamond begun in Double Crossing. With the flavor of California mining and dynamite history thrown in, plus a sumptuous banquet based on an actual event in November of 1869 to honor the CPRR bigwigs. Oh yeah. Had to put all the food and decoration details woven in that scene.

What’s next for your career?

I’m teaming up with a writing partner as D.E. Ireland for a cozy mystery series featuring Eliza Doolittle and Professor Henry Higgins. We had a blast writing the first book, Wouldn’t It Be Deadly, which will debut next year from St. Martin’s Press. And we’re planning on having even more fun writing the second book in the series!

My agent is shopping a Lighthouse Mystery series that I wrote as my thesis during my MA in the prestigious Writing Popular Fiction program at Seton Hill University. I also write contemporary Christmas romance novellas. Santa Paws was about my rescue dog, Benjy, and I’m currently writing Santa Claws about my cat. I hope to put Santa Paws and Santa Claws out in ebook and print this coming November.

For now – I’m talking about my Double Series — Double Crossing is a twist of True Grit on a train, and Double or Nothing is the sequel.

What’s Double Crossing about?

Newest DoubleCrossing SmallA 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?

Here’s an EXCERPT from Double Crossing…

Evanston, Illinois: 1869

I burst into the house. Keeping the flimsy telegram envelope, I dumped half a dozen packages into the maid’s waiting arms. “Where’s Father? I need to speak to him.”

“He’s in the library, Miss Lily. With Mr. Todaro.”

Oh, bother. I didn’t have time to deal with Emil Todaro, my father’s lawyer. He was the last person I wanted to see—but that couldn’t be helped. Thanking Etta, I raced down the hall. Father turned from his roll-top desk, spectacles perched on his thin nose and hands full of rustling papers. Todaro rose from an armchair with a courteous bow. His silver waistcoat buttons strained over his belly and his balding head shone in the sunlight. I forced myself to nod in his direction and then planted a quick kiss on Father’s leathery cheek. The familiar scents of pipe tobacco and bay rum soothed my nervous energy.

“I didn’t expect you back so early, Lily. What is it?”

With an uneasy glance at Todaro, I slipped him the envelope. “The telegraph messenger boy caught me on my way home.” My voice dropped. “It’s from Uncle Harrison.”

Father poked up his wire rims while he pored over the brief message. His shoulders slumped. “I’ll speak plainly, Lily, because Mr. Todaro and I were discussing this earlier. My brother sent word that George Hearst intends to claim the Early Bird mine in a Sacramento court. Harrison believes his business partner never filed the deed. He needs to prove our ownership.”

“Hearst holds an interest in the Comstock Lode, Colonel.” Todaro had perked up, his long knobby fingers forming a steeple. The lawyer resembled an amphibian, along with his deep croak of a voice. “His lawyers are just as ambitious and ruthless in court.”

Father peered over his spectacles. “Yes, but I have the original deed. I didn’t plan to visit California until next month, so we’ll have to move up our trip.”

“Oh!” I clasped my hands, a thrill racing through me. “I’m dying to visit all the shops out there, especially in San Francisco. When do we leave?”

“We? I meant myself and Mr. Todaro.”

I stared at the lawyer, who didn’t conceal a sly smirk. “You cannot leave me behind, Father. I promised to visit Uncle Harrison, and what if I decide to go to China?”

“Lily, I refuse to discuss the matter. This trip is anything but a lark.”

“It’s a grueling two thousand miles on the railroad, Miss Granville. Conditions out west are far too dangerous for a young lady,” Todaro said. “Even with an escort.”

“The new transcontinental line has been operating all summer. Plenty of women have traveled to California. I’ve read the newspaper reports.”

“I’m afraid the Union and Central Pacific cars are not as luxurious as the reports say. You have no idea. The way stations are abominable, for one thing.”

I flashed a smile at him. “I’m ready for adventure. That’s why I’ve considered joining the missionary team with Mr. Mason.”

Father scowled. “You are not leaving Evanston until I give my approval.”

“You mean until you dissuade me from ‘such a ridiculous notion.’”

“Need I remind you of the fourth commandment, Lily?”

“No, Father. We’ll discuss this later.”

My face flushed hot. Annoyed by being reprimanded in front of Todaro, I ignored the rest of the conversation. I’d always wanted to see the open prairie and perhaps a buffalo herd chased by Indians, the majestic Rocky Mountains and California. California, with its mining camps, lush green meadows and warm sunshine, the cities of Sacramento and San Francisco that had to be as exhilarating as downtown Chicago. I’d pored over the grainy pen-and-ink drawings in the Chicago Times. Uncle Harrison, who’d gone west several years ago to make a fortune and succeeded, for the most part, would welcome me with open arms. I plopped down on an armchair and fingered the ridges of the brass floor lamp beside me. Somehow I needed to persuade Father to allow me to tag along on this trip.

BUY LINKS: Re-release at Amazon!

Now available as a Hardcover Large Print edition and as an Audiobook

What’s Double or Nothing about?Double or Nothing

Lily Granville finds herself in more trouble when her guardian announces her engagement to a hand-picked suitor. But she is in love with Ace Diamond, the Texan renegade who saved her life on the journey to California — a man her uncle is determined to keep away at all cost.
Ace is just as determined to prove himself worthy of Lily’s hand — but is framed for murder after a dynamite explosion. Will Lily be able to save him from the hangman’s noose?

BUY LINKS: Amazon, B&N, Smashwords – coming as a HC Large Print in December!

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Rocket Science to YA SF: An Interview With Mindjack Trilogy Writer Susan Kaye Quinn

Susan Kaye Quinn’s YA sci-fi Mindjack Trilogy is one of my fantabulous browsing finds. Hopping from

The third book in the trilogy is available today!

The third book in the trilogy is available today!

book to book, the word “mindjacker” kept grabbing my attention, and the description for Open Minds, the first book in the trilogy, intrigued me even more:

When everyone reads minds, a secret is a dangerous thing to keep.

Sixteen-year-old Kira Moore is a zero, someone who can’t read thoughts or be read by others. Zeros are outcasts who can’t be trusted, leaving her no chance with Raf, a regular mindreader and the best friend she secretly loves. When she accidentally controls Raf’s mind and nearly kills him, Kira tries to hide her frightening new ability from her family and an increasingly suspicious Raf. But lies tangle around her, and she’s dragged deep into a hidden underworld of mindjackers, where having to mind control everyone she loves is just the beginning of the deadly choices before her. 

Free Souls, the final book in the series, drops today! Susan gives us the scoop on how she developed the whole mindjacker concept, what type of mage she would want to be, and she offers a preview of a new series akin to the Mindjack Trilogy.

The word “mindjack” is what initially caught my attention, and then the concept sealed the deal. Where did you get the idea?

Originally, there were no mindjackers in the story! My first concept was about a girl in a future world where everyone read minds except for her. The image of this very isolated girl came to me one night as I was trying to go to sleep (the brain never lets me rest), and I immediately had to get up and write the scene. After that, this character wouldn’t leave me alone, so I ended up using that as a starting point for a National Novel Writing Month (NaNo) novel a month later. About 20k words into the novel, I realized that she really was a mindjacker! The story evolved from there.

How did you develop the specialties of the mages?

The mages are jackers with extreme abilities, beyond the typical mindjacker that can just manipulate your every thought, emotion, sense, and memory. 🙂 I saw the mages as either jackers that have enhanced “normal” abilities or jackers that can reach into the deeper levels of mind. An “enhanced” jacker would be able to reach mentally farther (a Viewer) or control many minds at once (a Puppeteer, although I never explicitly call Hinckley that in the story). Jackers that reach deeper would control the instinctual processes that lie below conscious thought (a Handler) or broadly be able to rewrite not just memories, but subconscious memories, learned skills, and the tiniest details that make up your personality (a Scribe).

I had a lot of fun making these up. I had to stop making so many different kinds, just because it would have been too complicated for the story. But I leave that door open, so to speak, in Free Souls. 🙂

If you were a mage, what would be your gift?

I would definitely want to be a Handler. In Julian’s novella (The Handler), I explore what it feels like to be able to read people’s instincts (they’re mostly colors, but also temperatures), and how that affects Julian’s interactions with other people. What if you knew not just someone’s conscious thoughts, but the basic desires underlying them? They might say (or even think) one thing, but you would know what was driving them better than they knew themselves. Creepy. Also a lot of fun. 🙂

Who are your writing influences? What do like to read when you’re not writing?

I adore Scott Westerfeld and Holly Black. My influences stretch back to the classic SF of my youth (Heinlein, Bradbury) up to modern classics like Harry Potter and Hunger Games and Lightning Thief. I’ve broadened my reading in the last year: lots of indie works, short stories, SF, steampunk, even historical romance. Recent reads: The War of Art (nonfiction), The Queen’s Lady (medieval romance), Jars of Clay (Roman romance), The Ghost and the Graveyard (fantasy mature romance) and Wool (post-apocalyptic SF). If you can find the common element there, let me know! (BTW half of those are indie works.)

According to your bio, you have quite the resume in the sciences! What motivated you to get back to writing, and to take it all the way to publishing?

The writing bug bit after I started reading with my kids – I simply adored the middle grade stories they loved. Then I started reading YA, and I just found myself sitting down at the computer one day and writing a story of my own. I had written a lot as a child and teen myself, but had left it behind long ago to pursue “serious” adult work. 🙂 When I became completely obsessed with the craft of writing and literally couldn’t stop, I decided I better try to turn this into something that might bring income one day, just so I could justify all the time I spent on it. 🙂

With Free Souls coming soon, do you have any plans beyond the Mindjack books?

I do!

The Faery Swap (MG Fantasy)

I started writing because I love middle grade stories, and I’ve been writing those all along (although not publishing them). In 2013, I plan to revise and submit The Faery Swap, a middle grade fantasy about a boy who is tricked into swapping places with a warrior faery from an alternate dimension. It’s Prince and the Pauper meets Artemis Fowl, and I love the story. We’ll see how far it can go in the traditional-publishing route; all else fails, I’ll self-publish, even though the market for middle grade still hasn’t really arrived in the indie world.

Third Daughter (steampunk fantasy romance)

For NaNo 2012, I drafted the first 50k of Third Daughter, an Indian-flavored steampunk novel that I’m having ridiculous amounts of fun writing (you can check out my Pinterest board to get some idea of what that world looks like). I hadn’t really planned on writing this book until later next year, but my mom was interested in NaNo, and since I’ve been trying to get her to pick up the pen for about 4 years now, I told her I would do NaNo, if she did too. So we completed NaNo together  – I’m super proud of her for taking the leap! I’ll spend the rest of December finishing the first draft of Third Daughter before I let it rest.

Singularity (YA SF, for readers who enjoy Mindjack)

In the New Year, I’m crazy excited to start writing my new science fiction series, Singularity, which I think will appeal to the fans of Mindjack. It’s about a post-Singularity world (the Singularity is the event horizon when computers become more intelligent than humans), with plenty of cool technology and future world dreaming, all told through the viewpoint of a legacy human boy. You can see a sneak peek into this work in a tiny flash fiction I wrote for Christmas (it’s hidden on my blog, scroll down to the bottom). It will be a series, the as-yet unnamed first novel to be published in 2013.

So… big plans ahead! Thanks so much for having me today!

~ * ~

Thanks for coming by, Susan! So if you’ve read books one and two, go get your copy of Free Souls today to find out how things work out for Kira! If you’re new to the trilogy, I highly recommend giving it a shot. Check out Open Minds and Closed Hearts, plus the three related novellas Susan’s released. Find out all about the Mindjack Trilogy and more at Susan’s website. Happy reading!

Bedtime Stories to Books: An Interview With YA Author J.A. Paul

After following fellow author J.A. Paul on Twitter, I learned about his debut YA fantasy novel Gladius and the Bartlett Trial (which I’m currently reading). So I’ve asked him a few questions and found out how his sons influenced this action-adventure quest, what he loves most about writing, and what we can expect to see from this budding author in the future! We also have a special sneak peek at Gladius waiting for you after the interview. Read on!


When did you start ‘putting words to paper’ as your bio says? What motivated you to do so?

I used to mess around with writing when I was a teenager but I didn’t take it seriously. Not until the early 1990’s did I start learning the craft and applying ‘words to paper’ in short story form.


Where did you get the idea for Gladius and the Bartlett Trial?

One night after a long verbal bedtime story, my sons challenged me to write my own book. I borrowed an idea from a friend and asked my boys to choose three things to go in the story. They chose a dragon, a tree, and a ruby. They wanted lots of action and adventure and so from the seed of that idea, the story of Gladius grew.



What books/authors have influenced you?

Stephen Kings’ writing book On Writing made me wake up and pay attention. It also helped me realize there is a process to writing. A creative process. My mind works better when I can think in a logical, practical method but still be creative and whimsical at the same time. Also, John Grisham’s vivid stories and settings; Clive Cussler’s adventure and flair for fun; Dr. Suess’s daring to be different; and of course J. R. R. Tolkien’s creativity. Oh, and Brenda Ueland’s If You Want to Write is an excellent read if you want to be a writer. Those are the big recognizable names but I have many lesser known authors that I admire as well.


Tell us a little about Gladius and the Bartlett Trial. Is it a part of a series?

Yes, it is a part of a planned trilogy. To tell it differently than the back cover copy the story of Gladius is about a teenage boy who spent much of his childhood listening to the fantastic adventure stories of his older brothers and father. He yearns to live some of those adventures for himself and can’t wait to set out on his Bartlett Trial, a rite of passage of sorts where he has to prove himself in the forest of Longwood for one month. If he succeeds he will receive a pile of silver to help pay the family land tax as that is the Wiggin community’s custom. But what he gets instead is his first and very daring adventure of his life where all that he stands for hangs in the balance.


Which character do you most identify with and why?

I know it’s cliché but I can identify a little with each. This is a tough question because I feel like I have to choose a favorite among my own children. I would say Gladius because some of his actions and mannerisms are based off my teenage years.


Which scene did you have the most fun writing?

I have two. The VaporRot scene (dragon) and the ending.


What is your favorite part of writing?

For me it’s like that feeling you get after you exercise. You know, when you feel good about yourself because you accomplished something but also I think there is some feel good chemical that is released in your body. Kind of like a caffeine boost. I also enjoy thinking about scenes over and over until you get it just right. Then when you go to type it up it flows effortlessly.


When does your next book come out?

Book II is more than half-way done and should be out in the fall of 2011 with book III coming out in early- to mid-2012.



What can we expect of you in the future?

After the Gladius trilogy I want to write a stand-alone book based on some ‘what if’s’ centered around the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness BWCAW in northern Minnesota. I also have some fun children’s short stories that I would like to collaborate with an artist on. And to the request of some fans already, I might even write some short stories chronicling the adventures of Windom and Kirken, Glad’s two older brothers. They would be a fun supplement to the Gladius series.

* * *

And now an excerpt from Gladius and the Bartlett Trial!

Chapter 1 – Longwood

Stepping hesitantly up to the daunting pillars of time, Gladius Oldmont remembered the frightening tales told to him in his early years – tales that centered on this stand of mysterious and aged woodland.

He smiled fondly at the memory of his father’s words, “that old dragon torched the hair right off my scalp.” He pictured his father massaging his bald dome as if the infliction was only recent.

Rubbing a swollen bump on his own head, Gladius now stood at the same point each Oldmont family member had once stood before him – the entrance to Longwood Forest. He studied the mature trees as rays from the warm afternoon sun trickled their way through the shadowy interior illuming the ground of his intended course.

Gladius felt his heart racing, as if doing a war dance. He consciously took a deep breath, slowing down the thumping in his chest. He knew he tread upon the threshold of fulfilling a long-awaited dream. An adventure all young Wiggins his age must embark upon.

This adventure, called the Bartlett Trial, is a test for all Wiggins when they reach the age of fifteen – a challenge to determine if they are ready to be considered an adult in the village.

This journey could catapult him into the old ones’ legends far beyond this 17th century. He had lived for this moment; there would be no more waiting. No turning back.

Drawing in another deep breath, he nodded, tugged on the shoulder straps of his leather pack and flexed his fingers tightly around his walking stick. Exhaling, he stabbed the hand-carved stick in the ground and stepped forward into the leafy canvas upon which he would paint his future.

* * *

Intriguing, no? Get a glimpse at what happens once Gladius enters Longwood by downloading the first seven chapters free as a PDF right here! You can buy the whole story at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. And keep up with J.A. Paul and his newest releases online at his official website, Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.

Thanks for joining us!

Bringing Readers & Writers Together: An Interview With Darcia Helle

Welcome to Open Blog Week, a celebration of moving my blog to a new space!  To keep tabs on what’s happening, be sure to subscribe via the handy RSS link on the top of this page, by email over on the sidebar, or bookmark us. You can also keep up on new posts and happenings by following me on Twitter.

To get this week off to a good start, I interviewed Darcia Helle, mystery/suspense author and co-creator of the BestsellerBound forum. She also recently served as editor of the BestsellerBound Short Story Anthology, Volume 1. I asked her about the anthology and the forum, getting to the stories behind the creation of both. What I learned is that Darcia and her two forum co-creators have a higher purpose – to help merge the sometimes oddly disparate worlds of readers and writers.

When and how did the BestsellerBound forum come to be?

I decided to self-publish in 2009. Being completely naive to the emerging indie world, I assumed that I could interact freely in various readers groups and on message boards. I quickly realized how wrong that assumption was. At that time, I could not find one readers group that was author-friendly. I was not allowed to even mention that I was a writer. I’m an avid reader and enjoy discussing books I’ve read, as well as issues such as plot development, reader preferences, etc. In these groups, I could talk about everyone’s books but my own. And I could not mention – ever – that I write novels. The whole thing was surreal. Everyone else discussed their jobs and what they did with their day. My ‘job’ and what I did with my day evolved around writing. Writing is, quite obviously, related to reading. But if I said that, I would be severely chastised or even banned from these groups.

Writers groups were the opposite. We were allowed to talk all we wanted about our writing but no one spoke about what they read or any issues that concerned readers. Those groups all centered on self-promotion and marketing techniques. I wanted a place where readers and writers could freely interact, learn from one another, network and become friends.

I had been tossing around the idea of putting together a group of my own but, at that time, I didn’t know many indie authors and I couldn’t discuss it in reader groups. I had recently met Stacy Juba on Goodreads and we’d quickly become friends. I suggested the idea to her and she was all for it. I started putting the message board together and Stacy helped me tremendously with feedback. We decided to include one more moderator. We both were just getting to know Maria Savva through Facebook and Twitter. I sent her an email, telling her about the board, and fortunately, she agreed to join us!

The BestsellerBound name came from Stacy and the board officially opened in August of last year. While the project was incredibly time-consuming to put together, it is the best time I’ve ever spent. In the past year, I’ve made some of the best friends I could ever hope to have.


What inspired you to put together an anthology?

We have an incredibly talented bunch of authors. I read their work and I’m astonished that most of them remain relatively unknown. Short stories don’t take a lot of time to write and many of us write them without any clear idea of where to publish them. With ebooks being so popular and relatively easy to put together, I thought that a BestsellerBound Short Story Anthology would be a great way to introduce ourselves to readers.

We’d always intended the anthology to be free, which is a testament to the giving nature of all the authors involved. Getting the anthology free on Amazon for Kindle isn’t an easy thing. Amazon will only allow publishers to list free work, not authors. So we either have to wait months for Smashwords to (hopefully) distribute it to Amazon or I need to list it myself for 99 cents (the minimum) and get a lot of people to click the link on the book’s page reporting it as cheaper elsewhere. I’m leaning toward listing it myself.

What genres/styles are represented in the BsB Anthology?

I think there is a taste of almost everything in the first volume. We’ve got mainstream, fantasy, thriller, romance, historical and more! We’ve got authors who write dark fiction, others who write light fiction. Each style is a little different, representing a lot of unique talent.

This is volume 1. Are there more volumes coming?

Yes! I’m really excited about the participation we’ve gotten. Volume 2 is in the works. As long as we have authors willing to write and share their stories, I’ll continue putting out the anthologies.

What are the goals of the BsB forum? Where do you see the project going in the future?

BestsellerBound has already exceeded my highest expectations. I started out with a hope to get people together and talking. I wound up with an amazing group of friends.

One thing I’d love to see is more reader (non-writer) participation. We have a lot of indie author participation but I don’t want readers to think that’s all the group is about. We welcome anyone with a love of words.

As for other directions, I’m not sure. I’m enjoying the way the group has evolved and I’m open to all sorts of possibilities.

Aside from being involved in the BsB forum, what other projects do you have cooking?

I always have more projects than time! I’m in the final editing stage of my seventh book – Into The Light. I hope to have that one published and available to the world in a few weeks. I’ve begun putting together ideas for promotion and marketing for that title. (For the record, I do not like promotion and marketing!) I’ve started on my next novel, which will be the third book in my Michael Sykora series. I’m always working on features and various content for my blog. And I’ve also been redesigning and adding new content to my website.

* * *

The BestsellerBound Short Story Anthology, Volume 1, is a free download at Smashwords, and is available in almost any format you could desire, including Kindle.

Whether you’re a writer or a reader, take a few minutes to check out the BestsellerBound forum and contribute to its growth as a safe haven for word lovers to mingle freely.

Last but not least, you can find out what’s going on with Darcia and her forthcoming novel at her website or blog, or follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Thanks to Darcia for joining us!

Now that we’ve done a little reading, let’s discuss: Do you think a gap exists between readers and writers? If so, what do you think contributes to it? What would you do to bridge that gap?